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Giving the trumpet a certain sound

August 2007

Wildfires in US West

Dry conditions and high temperatures combined to foster several uncontrolled fires in the western parts of the United States:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Wildfires raged across the western United States on Sunday as firefighters scrambled to prevent flames from spreading across rugged terrain thick with tinder turned bone-dry by scorching weather.

Some of the intense blazes forced hasty evacuations of rural homes and recreational areas and officials temporarily shut highways and railways in some fire zones.

California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana each reported wildfires of varying severity as a heat wave blanketed the western United States. ("Wildfires rage across western United States," www.reuters.com, July 8, 2006)

In response to the question, why do such fires seem worse in recent years, one web site pointed to grazing and lumbering practices in other words, human impact. ("Why Do Wildfires Seem So Bad These Days?" http://www.tapestryinstitute.org/fire/catastrophe.html) Human impacts are often driven by the desire for wealth.

Inspired Commentary

In a passage that speaks about the accountability that will occur when Christ returns, one Bible writer warns:

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. James 5:1-3

The One True Church?

The "Holy See" has issued a document that reaffirms Roman Catholic teaching about the one true church:

VATICAN CITY, July 10, 2007 -- Just three days after Pope Benedict XVI published his motu proprio allowing wider use of traditional Latin Mass in the Catholic Church, the Vatican doctrinal office he used to head, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, today published a brief text on one of the most controversial passages, and words, from the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), and in so doing reaffirmed the traditional Catholic teaching that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ.

... The Pope's intent, it seems clear, is to lessen confusion in the Church, and at the same time to reinforce the sense of Catholic identity over against a type of exaggerated ecumenism in which all Christian communities are increasingly, in practice, regarded as equally valid expressions of Christian faith. ("Pope Stresses Catholic Identity," Inside the Vatican Newsflash (email newsletter), July 10, 2007)

Another article discussing the same document noticed the statement that Protestant churches (according to Catholic teaching) cannot properly be called churches:

Touching an ecumenical sore point, the document said some of the separated Christian communities, such as Protestant communities, should not properly be called "Churches" according to Catholic doctrine because of major differences over the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist. ...

In a format of five questions and answers, the new document stated that Vatican II did not change Catholic doctrine on the Church. ...

The sanctifying elements that exist outside the structure of the Catholic Church can be used as instruments of salvation, but their value derives from the "fullness of grace and truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church," it said, quoting from Vatican II's "Decree on Ecumenism."

The text said the Second Vatican Council used the term "Church" in reference to Orthodox Churches because, although separated from the Catholic Church, they have preserved apostolic succession, the ordained priesthood and the Eucharist. Nevertheless, they "lack something in their condition as particular Churches" because they are not in union with the Pope, it said.

The Christian communities born out of the Reformation, on the other hand, do not enjoy apostolic succession the unbroken succession of bishops going back to St. Peter and therefore "cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called 'Churches' in the proper sense," it said. ("Vatican congregation reaffirms truth, oneness of Catholic Church," Catholic News Service, n.d. (quoted in July 10, 2007 "Inside the Vatican Newsflash")

Inspired commentary

The Roman Church now presents a fair front to the world, covering with apologies her record of horrible cruelties. She has clothed herself in Christlike garments; but she is unchanged. Every principle of the papacy that existed in past ages exists today. The doctrines devised in the darkest ages are still held. Let none deceive themselves. The papacy that Protestants are now so ready to honor is the same that ruled the world in the days of the Reformation, when men of God stood up, at the peril of their lives, to expose her iniquity. (The Great Controversy, p. 571)

The Pharisees had declared themselves the children of Abraham. Jesus told them that this claim could be established only by doing the works of Abraham. The true children of Abraham would live, as he did, a life of obedience to God. They would not try to kill One who was speaking the truth that was given Him from God. In plotting against Christ, the rabbis were not doing the works of Abraham. A mere lineal descent from Abraham was of no value. Without a spiritual connection with him, which would be manifested in possessing the same spirit, and doing the same works, they were not his children.

This principle bears with equal weight upon a question that has long agitated the Christian world, the question of apostolic succession. Descent from Abraham was proved, not by name and lineage, but by likeness of character. So the apostolic succession rests not upon the transmission of ecclesiastical authority, but upon spiritual relationship. A life actuated by the apostles' spirit, the belief and teaching of the truth they taught, this is the true evidence of apostolic succession. This is what constitutes men the successors of the first teachers of the gospel. (The Desire of Ages, pp. 466, 467)

Disappearing Birds

Yesterday, the National Audubon Society quantified what birders and other outdoors people have known for years: Many of America's most common bird populations have plummeted over the last 40 years, the bobwhite, the biggest loser, by 82 percent.

The message, Weidensaul said, is that "no species is safe" from sweeping landscape changes such as development, loss of wetlands, and pollution from industry. ...

The study's author, Greg Butcher, the Audubon Society's national bird conservation director, was quick to point out that while none of the birds was in danger of becoming extinct, the declines indicated serious problems that should -- and can -- be addressed. ("The Disappearing Birds," Philadelphia Inquirer quoted in Rachel's Democracy & Health News #912, June 15, 2007)

Inspired Commentary

In the beginning, God was revealed in all the works of creation. It was Christ that spread the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth. ... It was He that filled the earth with beauty, and the air with song. And upon all things in earth, and air, and sky, He wrote the message of the Father's love.

Now sin has marred God's perfect work, yet that handwriting remains. Even now all created things declare the glory of His excellence. There is nothing, save the selfish heart of man, that lives unto itself. (The Desire of Ages, p. 20)

Untreatable TB?

Drug resistant tuberculosis was in the news recently regarding an airline passenger who potentially exposed other travelers. The United Nations World Health Organization sees big problems ahead related to this disease:

The World Health Organization is appealing for billions of dollars in funding to avert the apocalypse en route if a virtually untreatable form of tuberculosis that already infects 30,000 people a year is left unchecked.

The TB, called XDR-TB for extensively drug resistant, is virtually immune to currently available antibiotics, turning aside the effects of both front-line and secondary drugs, officials have said. ...

The organization is appealing for $2.15 billion in funding to develop a battle plan and tools to fight the drug-resistant TB. It is expected that it would save 134,000 lives over two years, and many more in the future.

The extensively drug resistant TB has been reported in 37 countries in all parts of the world since it first was identified in 2006, the agency said. ("Untreatable TB threat 'apocalyptic scenario'," www.worldnetdaily.com, June 24, 2007)

The ultimate negative side effect of large-scale drug use in humans and animals may be the drug-resistant diseases that are developing.

Inspired Commentary

The development of drug-resistant disease is a legacy we are passing on to our children.

Every generation has been growing weaker, and disease of every form afflicts the race. Thousands of poor mortals with deformed, sickly bodies, shattered nerves, and gloomy minds are dragging out a miserable existence. Satan's power upon the human family increases. If the Lord should not soon come and destroy his power, the earth would erelong be depopulated. (Counsels on Health, p. 18)

Flooding in Southern Plains

Heavy rain storms in June and early July caused widespread flooding in Texas and Kansas:

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Floodwater receded from most sodden neighborhoods in Coffeyville, giving many residents a first, well-orchestrated glimpse Monday of the devastation left by an oil spill during torrential rains that flooded their hometown.

City officials gave residents bus tours into once-flooded sections but kept people on board because of fears about health hazards left by the contaminated water. ...

Meanwhile, in Texas, officials were assessing damage Monday from intense weekend flooding as the heaviest storms subsided across the state. The flooding in the Southern Plains have been blamed for at least 17 deaths in recent weeks, most in Texas. ("Kansas Residents Revisit Flooded Town," The Associated Press, July 10, 2007)

Inspired Commentary

Since time has passed since Jesus spoke the words below, one may have questions about declaring any one event a definitive sign, and it would be well to maintain a humble expectant attitude, knowing that the culminating event is sure.

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

In the last scenes of this earth's history war will rage. There will be pestilence, plague and famine. The waters of the deep will overflow their boundaries. Property and life will be destroyed by fire and flood. We should be preparing for the mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for them that love Him. (Maranatha, p. 174 (1897)

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