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The Trumpet Herald

Giving the trumpet a certain sound

October 2006

Preparing a People

Although there are signs of Christ’s coming in occurrences in natural, economic, and political areas, one factor in the timing of the second coming of Jesus seemingly gets less attention. That factor is the spiritual condition of the members of Christ’s church.

Regarding evangelical Christianity generally:

A new study by The Barna Group (Ventura, California) shows that despite strong levels of spiritual activity during the teen years, most twentysomethings disengage from active participation in the Christian faith during their young adult years – and often beyond that. (“Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf Following Spiritually Active Teen Years,” www.barna.org (The Barna Group), Sept. 11, 2006

Regarding a church that puts its anticipation of Christ’s return in its name, a stewardship official reported in 2003 that:

About 30 percent of Adventist Church members worldwide give tithe. In parts of Africa and South America as few as 10 percent give tithe.

Tithing is related to spirituality, says Maxson, who is not worried so much about a reduction in tithe as of the spirituality of Adventists around the globe. (“Less Tithe a ‘Deeply Spiritual Problem’ Say Church Leaders,” Adventist News Network, Oct. 28, 2003)

While giving patterns may not be infallible as an indicator of spirituality, they are certainly measurable and one’s use of available funds is a very basic indication of priorities.

Inspired Commentary

Inspired statements point to the need for God’s people to be ready for Jesus’ return:

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matt. 24:12-14.

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of the Saviour shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim His own. It is the privilege of every Christian, not only to look for, but to hasten, the coming of our Lord. Were all who profess His name bearing fruit to His glory, how quickly the whole world would be sown with the seed of the gospel! Quickly the last great harvest would be ripened, and Christ would come. (Maranatha p. 112)

Pope "Sorry"

In a speech at a German university, the Pope quoted a medieval source regarding Islam. The quote provoked a strong reaction in the Muslim world.

Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday that he is “deeply sorry” about the reaction in some countries to a recent speech in which he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor as saying that the prophet Muhammad brought "only evil and inhuman" things to the world.

The pope said that the quotation from Manuel II Palaeologus does not reflect his personal views, and that his speech last Tuesday at Germany's University of Regensburg was intended to invite inter-religious dialogue “with great mutual respect.” (“Pope ‘Sorry’ About Reaction to Islam Remark,” washingtonpost.com, Sept. 18, 2006)

The quote in question was:

“The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war,” Benedict said. “He said, I quote, ‘Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’ ” (“Pope meant no insult to Islam, Vatican says,” usatoday.com, Sept. 14, 2006)

Besides verbal condemnation of the remarks, some violent reactions to the Pope’s comments were reported:

On Saturday, Palestinian Muslims threw firebombs and sprayed bullets at five churches in the West Bank and Gaza. Yesterday they torched a 170-year-old church in the West Bank town of Tul Karem and partly burned a smaller church in the village of Tubas. In Somalia, an Italian nun and her bodyguard were fatally shot, but it was not immediately clear whether that attack was related to the pope’s speech. (“Pope ‘Sorry’ About Reaction to Islam Remark,” washingtonpost.com, Sept. 18, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

It is obvious that religious feelings at variance can produce tension and violence. In this case the reaction risks confirming the offensive implication. Strife will increase:

An angry man stirreth up strife, and a furious man aboundeth in transgression. Prov. 29:22

He loveth transgression that loveth strife: and he that exalteth his gate seeketh destruction. Prov. 17:19

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matt. 24:9-13

The Challenge of Iran

A recent article in Time sketches what seems to be the ongoing progression of events toward war with Iran:

It would be painful for any U.S. Administration to recognize the legitimacy of a regime that sponsors terrorism and calls for Israel’s destruction--but the time may come when that's the only bargaining chip short of war the U.S. has left. And still that may not be enough. “[The Iranians] would give up nuclear power if they truly believed the U.S. would accept Iran as it is,” says a university professor in Tehran who asked not to be identified. “But the mistrust runs too deep for them to believe that is possible.”

Such distrust runs both ways and is getting deeper. Unless the U.S., its allies and Iran can find a way to make diplomacy work, the whispers of blockades and minesweepers in the Persian Gulf may soon be drowned out by the cries of war. And if the U.S. has learned anything over the past five years, it’s that war in the Middle East rarely goes according to plan. (“What Would War Look Like?” time.com, Sept. 17, 2006)

Inspired Commentary

To instill fear is apparently sought after by some – terrorists — to achieve their goals. Jesus predicted that fear would be prevalent in the last days, and distress of nations:

And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. (Luke 21:25-27)

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