by Ian Munro
Giving a Peaceful Answer
given Wales UK 26 Jul 2014
|In today's fast-paced world there is little time to think before giving an electronic reply. But therein lies a grave problem: For the scripture, "a soft answer turns away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1) ... is just as valid as it ever was. (1.8 Mb)|
by Jon Bowles
How Does God Teach?
given Wales UK 26 Jul 2014
|Hebrews 12 encourages us to listen to God's training and instruction as a child submissive to his father. But how does God teach us? The sermon examines: the creation; our parents; the prophets; the psalms; Christ when human; and Christ guiding His Church today. (14.1 Mb)|
"He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22)
We live in a modern world driven by constant change. At the same time, advertising — designed to make us frustrated unless we have the very latest outfit, shoes, gizmo or gadget (that they just happen to be selling) — seems to transform us into brainless lemmings prepared to leap over any financial precipice just to "get the latest" in everything. Yet it certainly has not always been this way.
Judy and I knew a lady - who died well into her 90s - who, for 65 years used the same refrigerator that she and her husband purchased around the time of the 2nd World War. This 'fridge continued working in her home day in and day out without problem, effectively cooling food. There was simply no need to buy "the latest" model. The one she had was built at a time when the idea was to make the best possible product — so that the user would have many, many years of good, reliable service. Her almost constant refrain, when discussing whether to replace perfectly usable clothing, crockery or furnishings would be..."It will see me out"...i.e. will serve her well enough till she dies.
Not so today! Not only is built-in obsolescence — the deliberate practice of making shoddy goods that break after moderate use — a policy that is actively followed so that more and more purchases must be made, but this in turn spawns another problem — and one that intimately impacts on all of us in God's Church. This drive for greater and greater consumption of just about everything forces everyone into an absurd and evil rat-race of having their lives taken over with buying, caring for and disposing of all this "stuff". It is a tread-mill that goes nowhere yet within it Satan is able to promote the " worries of this life and the false appeal of wealth" (Common English Bible) — strangling us all with purely material pursuits. And if anything, this problem is getting progressively worse as we approach the end! There is a very interesting presentation about this modern disease on Youtube called "The Story of Stuff". It accurately shows the foolishness and inhumanity of the present position.
However, should you watch the video, be aware that the solution being presented is effectively unworkable when human nature is taken into account. People cooperating together to "bring about a better world" and thereby force politicians and businesses to act responsibly is simply not going to happen in the longer term. What we in the Church need to understand is that the true problem does not lie in the rain-forests and factories and corridors of power. The true problem lies in the heart of man. It is a spiritual problem — and therefore the only true solution must also be Spiritual — with a capital "S"!
One of the major reasons the World Tomorrow is going to be so radically different, is that for the first time all humanity will be able to grasp the vital spiritual dimension that exists in this life, and so for the first time get its priorities straight. For us to teach those correct priorities in the future, we in God's Church need to set our own priorities in their correct order NOW. Yet we often become so brainwashed by the never-ending materialistic hamster-wheel on which we find ourselves that we fail to grasp the depth of the spiritual dimension ourselves. Too often when we consider the Millennium, we do so through the prism of the present — but better — focusing merely on the physical wealth in passages such as:
It is certainly right and good to rejoice that such physical abundance and peace is coming — and there is nothing wrong with the blessing of physical wealth .... Abraham and the patriarchs of old were immensely wealthy, for example — but "stuff" must NOT be our focus. The vitally important ingredients of the Millennium are spiritual. The physical blessings then flow from the spiritual changes, never the other way around. So how do we do this now — in this life? How do we keep our priorities straight in a world specifically designed with the opposite in mind?
This desire to have more and more is nothing new ... with humans it started in the Garden of Eden when Satan tempted Eve with just that little bit more than it seemed God had offered her ... and Paul specifically wrote to Timothy about the same kind of problem in his time:
It has also been suggested that the problem with Lucifer initially was that he too felt the earth was not enough ..... he wanted more stuff! ... More planets to rule, more galaxies, more star systems. In contrast, in the book of Proverbs we see totally different advice:
Since the industrial revolution, when it became possible for the man on the street to have more physical wealth and goods, it almost seems as though society opened a Pandora's Box that cannot be shut. The scriptures reveal materialism as an end-time problem:
Soberingly, the final era of the Church is also specifically warned:
The problem is that their lives are off track because their priorities are skewed. They have allowed the physical treadmill to overtake and submerge the spiritual — with God little more than an optional extra in their day-to-day lives. How can God possibly use such an individual to set the priorities of the world back on track? His Way of Life and transcendent plan is not about to play second fiddle to anything or any one in the human realm either now or in the future. This is why His end-time disciples are specifically warned:
The two key ingredients given in verse 36 above: "Watch ye therefore, and pray always ... " are two vital activities on which the end-time Church of God must focus. The word used for watch in this case literally means to "chase away sleep". It is interesting that the Greek for sleep is "hupnos", from which we get "hypnosis"... and it does seem that the western world in particular is almost in the grip of hypnotism when it comes to its acquisition of more and more physical goods as part of a quest to fill the spiritual void that exists — a chasm that will inevitably exist in any society based on purely materialistic values.
As we witness the prophesied end-time events take place, not only should those of us in God's Church "chase away" such hypnotic slumber, but we must do so by setting aside sufficient time daily to build and maintain our relationship with God. This is very much part of how we put first things first in our lives — and thereby combat "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, [which] choke the word." We do it primarily through prayer and study of that word. Only then can we effectively tackle the cares of each day, knowing we have His backup, guidance and oversight:
As Christ points out above, our focus must remain riveted on God's calling and the true purpose of our existence: to be ready to correctly teach in the World Tomorrow. That is the only time we will see the true solution fully implemented on this earth — once Satan and his attitude has finally been removed from the earth and replaced by God's Spirit during the Millennial rule of Jesus Christ. At that time the world is destined to be radically different in every way, yet the simplicity of the change is stunning: To change the heart of man from a way of get, to God's Way of Give. Simple, straightforward and yet how profound!
We will no longer have people selling what they don't own (short selling) or being lured by deceptive advertising to buy what they cannot afford, thus being burdened with debts. Loving our neighbour as ourselves within a world in which the heart of man has finally turned to a God-centred way, also means no more built-in obsolescence and its greed-based shoddy goods. No one will even be burdened with a mortgage when each man will live under his OWN vine and fig tree which will be given to him and his physical family by the Government of God. Any debts incurred seem destined to be cancelled every 7 years at the Sabbatical year, and the land redistributed back to each family every 50 years at the time of the Jubilee.
We can barely imagine such a society. But we in God's Church desperately need to hang on to that vision within this empty, materialistic, yet temporary interlude, as that new lasting world is our world, our country, our Government, our Kingdom, our age. To do this we need to take a good hard look at the chaos in the world today — and try to grasp the urgent spiritual need. We also need to more fully appreciate the necessity of the truly converted mind God requires within each of us now — so we can be effectively used as teachers by Him, to bring about that truly converted — totally changed — society...... the World Tomorrow.
For as Jesus Christ warns us all — as students of His Ways who He expects to overcome the lure of this present shoddy spiritually-bereft materialistic society:
From Africa to Afghanistan, from Malaysia to the Middle East a new era of Islamic fundamentalism is spreading fear and chaos around the world. Suddenly, a new name has hit the headlines…
“Within just a few months, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become the most feared jihadist organization on the planet — even more so than its parent group, al-Qaeda.
In early June, ISIS conquered the northern Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and has more recently been threatening to overtake the capital, Baghdad.
A large part of their financing comes from Saudi Arabia and Qatar… The group is also enriching itself every time it conquers territory. Earlier this month, ISIS members reportedly looted $450 million from a bank in Mosul and helped themselves to military equipment left behind by members of the fleeing Iraqi army.
“Professor Peter Neumann of King's College London believes that before the capture of Mosul in June 2014, ISIS had cash and assets worth about $900 million (£500 million).
Afterwards, this rose to around $2 billion (£1.18 billion).
The group reportedly took hundreds of millions of dollars from Mosul’s branch of Iraq’s central bank. And its financial windfall looks set to continue if it maintains control of oil fields in northern Iraq.” (bbc.co.uk)
Rex Brynen, a political science professor from Montreal's McGill University, says ISIS also raises significant money through taxation and extortion. Some of the territory it has captured, including the town of Raqqa in Syria, contains oil fields, which provides the group with another form of revenue.
While much of the world has been surprised by the speed with which the ISIS has been able to take over Iraqi cities, ‘this could not happen without local support,’ says Henry Habib, professor emeritus of political science at Montreal’s Concordia University. He says that the group has been able to take advantage of Sunni outrage with the Shia-led government of Nouri al-Maliki.
One of the reasons they were able to take cities like Mosul and Tikrit is ‘because these are fundamentally Sunni cities that are tired of Maliki,’ says Michael O’Hanlon, director of foreign policy research at the Brookings Institute in Washington DC.” (cbc.ca)
The hatred between Sunni and Shia Muslims has reached boiling point. The following article points out that while Saudi Arabia originally funded ISIS as a means of destroying the Shia Muslims, they are losing control over the ‘Frankensteinian monster’ they have created. Some reports indicate that the House of Saud appears to be the next target!
“How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: ‘The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally “God help the Shia”. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.’
In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as ‘spoils of war’. Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.
Dearlove’s explosive revelation about the prediction of a day of reckoning for the Shia by Prince Bandar, and the former head of MI6’s view that Saudi Arabia is involved in the Isis-led Sunni rebellion, has attracted surprisingly little attention.
Coverage of Dearlove’s speech focused instead on his main theme that the threat from Isis to the West is being exaggerated because, unlike Bin Laden’s al-Qa’ida, it is absorbed in a new conflict that ‘is essentially Muslim on Muslim.’ Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.
The West may have to pay a price for its alliance with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, which have always found Sunni jihadism more attractive than democracy.
Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control… it may come to regret its support for the Sunni revolts in Syria and Iraq as jihadi social media begins to speak of the House of Saud as its next target.” (independent.co.uk)
“US President Barack Obama said on Friday that he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the threat posed from foreign jihadists returning to their home countries from the Middle East. This follows similar concerns expressed by other international political and military leaders, including General David Petraeus, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron last week specifically warned of the prospect of international terror attacks if an ‘extreme Islamist’ regime is created in Iraq, after the recent advances of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). These recent warnings from international leaders echo those of FBI Director James Comey, who warned last month about the prospect of a ‘future 9/11’ caused by the increased flow of foreign fighters into the Middle East.
Danger to international interests appears to be growing from home-grown threats fuelled by battle-hardened, radicalized individuals returning from foreign theatres of war, especially in the Middle East, with greater terrorist resolve and capabilities.” (independent.co.uk)
“A group of jihadists claiming to be part of ISIS have vowed to invade Spain along with all other ‘occupied lands’ in a video posted on the web.
The men say Spain is the land of their forefathers and that they are prepared to die for their nascent Islamic State. ‘I tell you, Spain is the land of our forefathers, and, Allah willing, we are going to liberate it, with the might of Allah,’ says one of the men. He adds that the group won’t stop at Spain and intends to spread its Islamic Caliphate across the world.” (rt.com)
“Abu Safiyya from Chile, who claims to be standing on the Iraq border with Syria, says that ISIS will eventually break all of the Middle East borders to make way to Jerusalem. ‘This is not the first border we will break,’ he says of the border he is standing on. ‘God will break all barriers… Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon… all of the them - until we reach Jerusalem. This is the first of many barriers we will break’.” (jpost.com)
“Hamas is only one piece of the puzzle of murderous radical Islamic organizations murdering, raping and robbing their way through the Middle East, Africa and the West as they seek to impose an Islamic caliphate on the entire world. Sunni Islamist terrorists blow up Shi’ite mosques and Shi’ite Islamist terrorists blow up Sunni mosques, and they burn churches and kill Christians wherever they find them in the Arab-Muslim world.
They boast about how they defeated the Christian Byzantine Empire and turned the churches in Turkey and the Middle East into mosques. In the Second World War, the Allies did not bomb the churches in Fascist Italy, but the terrorists who have no qualms about attacking Jerusalem with its Al-Aqsa mosque will have no qualms, when the time comes, about attacking Rome and Vatican City.” (gatestoneinstitute.org)
“ISIS is known for its harsh Wahhabist interpretation of Islam, and brutal violence directed at Shia Muslims and Christians in particular. ISIS had close links with al-Qaeda until 2014, but in February of that year, after an eight-month power struggle, al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly for its ‘notorious intractability’ and wanton brutality. From the beginning the establishment of a pure Islamic state has been one of ISIS’s main goals.” (wikipedia.org)
“Radical Sunni militants who have been capturing cities in northwest Iraq claimed on Twitter that they executed 1,700 Iraqi soldiers. The radicals posted graphic photos as evidence.
The photographs, which were posted on the Twitter account associated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), came with captions that described their alleged massacre. They did not provide a date or location, but chief military spokesman Lieutenant General Qassim al-Moussawi said the killings took place in Salahuddin province, located north of Baghdad.
Some of the images show dozens of captured men in civilian clothes loaded onto trucks, with the captions saying that they were taken to their deaths.” (rt.com)
The result? The Iraq army flees!
ISIS has cleverly used modern media to promote fear. Beheadings, floggings and mass executions have spread fear, particularly in Iraq.
Their success can be measured by the fact that a few thousand ISIS members routed the Iraqi army, as the following article points out.
“The collapse of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the initial onslaught from ISIS fighters and their allies underscores the perilous position confronting Iraq’s rulers. On paper, Iraq’s military is a sizeable force - an army of over 193,000 to which can be added some 500,000 police and paramilitary forces of one kind or another. Some units at least might have been expected to acquit themselves well in combat.
Instead, they have largely abandoned their weaponry, stripped off their uniforms and fled. ISIS may be a far more competent combat force than its description as an offshoot of al-Qaeda might suggest.” (bbc.co.uk)
‘Convert, pay tax, or die’, Islamic State warns Christians:
“Islamist insurgents have issued an ultimatum to northern Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy or face death, according to a statement distributed in the militant-controlled city of Mosul. Christians who wanted to remain in the ‘caliphate’ that the Islamic State declared this month in parts of Iraq and Syria must agree to abide by terms of a ‘dhimma’ contract - a historic practice under which non-Muslims were protected in Muslim lands in return for a special levy known as ‘jizya’.” (news.yahoo.com)
“Yesterday [9th July] the Iraqi government announced a startling new development: ISIS has managed to make off with 88 pounds of uranium from Mosul University.
“THE WORLD right now stands on the brink of the FINAL, NUCLEAR WAR! There has never yet been a NUCLEAR war! Do you grasp the gravity of the world situation at this minute?” (Pastor General’s Report - February 1980)
This isn’t enriched uranium mind you, so it wouldn’t be suitable for making a nuclear bomb, but it would do just fine for a dirty bomb (or bombs). A dirty bomb is a weapon which combines radioactive material with conventional explosives with the goal of irradiating an area.
Most experts agree that a dirty bomb would not actually cause a large number of deaths. It would however be devastating to an economy and would have a significant psychological impact on a population.” (scgnews.com)
While a dirty bomb is a very serious problem, ISIS is cash rich – and everything has a price. Several Muslim nations have nuclear weapons…
What would happen if terrorists set off a nuclear bomb in a major city?
“Terrorist use of a nuclear bomb would be an historic catastrophe. If a crude nuclear bomb with an explosive equivalent of 10,000 tons of TNT (10 ‘kilotons’ in the language of nuclear weapons) were set off at Grand Central Station on a typical work-day, some 500,000 people might be killed, and hundreds of thousands more would be injured, burned, and irradiated. The direct economic damage would likely be in the range of $1 trillion, and the reverberating economic effects throughout the United States and the world would come to several times that figure. In 2005, then-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that such an attack ‘would stagger the world economy and thrust tens of millions of people into dire poverty,’ causing ‘a second death toll throughout the developing world.’ The terrorists would surely claim they had more bombs already hidden in US cities, potentially provoking widespread panic and economic disruption. In short, America and the world would be changed forever.” (belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu)
In 1981, Mr Armstrong warned:
“Today we are in danger of nuclear annihilation of all humanity. We are in danger of a nuclear war. More and more nations now have nuclear weapons. Some smaller nations could start a war – a nuclear war that would trigger a great nuclear war. However, I don’t see World War III coming from Russia according to the Bible prophecies. It’s going to come from a source the world doesn’t expect.
But what is happening now in the world is certainly leading up to it, preparing the way; and it could happen and all come together very quickly and very, very suddenly.” (Sermon - The Spirit In Man)
Again, in 1982, Mr Armstrong warned:
“Even more disturbing is the growing prospect of NUCLEAR TERRORISM – nuclear MASS MURDER by madmen bent on their own insane goals!
Many authorities believe that when the next nuclear bomb is used, it will be by terrorists and not by a national government.
The destructive capacity of nuclear bombs in terrorists’ hands is a growing risk. It is a documented fact that uranium and plutonium – vital nuclear arms materials – have been stolen, smuggled internationally and offered for sale. One expert estimates that there is enough ‘material unaccounted for’ at American facilities alone to make more than 20 plutonium bombs and half a dozen uranium bombs! Officials have no idea where this nuclear material is!
In addition to terrorist groups, experts fear that unstable regimes in various countries could also get the bomb. An unbalanced Third World dictator with a nuclear device could kill millions of people. A new Stalin or Hitler in a major nation would have the stockpiles to literally obliterate the entire human race!
The nuclear ‘genie’ is out of the bottle! Events are even now impelling the world toward a time of cataclysmic destruction. It is time to awake to the imminence of nuclear war and nuclear terrorism!” (Co-Worker Letter - April 21, 1982)