January 3, 2013
For some reason I don’t feel much like celebrating when the last-minute deal struck by congress to supposedly help put the nation’s financial house in order will in reality add about $4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade—and will add $41 in taxes for every $1 cut in spending.
So how did we get into this mess?
Consider a few facts:
- The U.S. government is like a family with a $21,700 annual income spending $38,200 a year, with $16,500 of that put on credit cards—when the family already owes $142,710 on those credit cards!
- The U.S. government currently borrows 40 percent of all that it spends. That means it borrows and spends $10.4 billion each day, $433 million per hour, $7.2 million per minute, and $120,370 per second! (And this isn’t all that it spends—merely what it borrows to spend.)
- For four consecutive years the federal government has amassed a trillion-dollar deficit. It took the United States 200 years to accumulate its first trillion dollars in debt. Now it takes about 10 months!
- We have already spent the money that will be paid in taxes by the next generation of Americans, and more—stealing wealth from them to maintain our standard of living through massive borrowing.
- Each American’s share of federal government debt is about $45,000—and expected to grow to almost $75,000 by 2020, only seven years away.
- Shocking as these figures are, they in fact vastly underestimate the scope of the problem. When we factor in unfunded liabilities—the amount needed to fully fund government promises for Social Security, Medicare, military and government employee pensions and health care, the real debt load then jumps to five to ten times the $16 trillion current deficit! And that doesn’t even include similar unfunded liabilities for the 50 individual states and hundreds of American towns and cities.
The fact is, America has already run off the fiscal cliff. The real question is, how long until we hit bottom?
But again, how did we get into this mess?
You need to understand the answer. You may be surprised to learn that it was foretold several thousand years ago in the pages of your Bible!
You need to understand what’s prophesied to happen to America, and much of the rest of the Western world. More importantly, you need to understand why.
That’s why we call The Good News “a Magazine of Understanding.” We want to help you make sense of this world that’s rapidly changing around us. And the keys to understanding that are found in the Bible.
We hope you’ll carefully read the articles in this next issue, which is dedicated to the crucial question of “Where Does America Go From Here?” You need to know! Your issue should be arriving in your mailbox any day now (if it hasn’t already). Or you can preview and download it here.
Either way, you need this crucial information!
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
November 7, 2012
Marriage is the building block of families. Families are the building blocks of communities. Communities are the building blocks of society. When marriages and families break down, so do communities and ultimately society and civilization as a whole. We’ve seen this pattern before, and we’re witnessing it again as this bedrock of society increasingly crumbles.
Consider the costs when marriage is debased and discarded. A landmark 2008 study titled The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing concluded that breakdown of the family costs U.S. taxpayers a minimum of at least $112 billion each year, or more than $1 trillion in a decade.
That figure includes major costs for “higher rates of crime, drug abuse, education failure, chronic illness, child abuse, domestic violence, and poverty . . . more welfare expenditure; increased remedial and special education expenses . . . increased Medicaid and Medicare costs; [and] increasingly expensive and harsh crime-control measures,” among other things.
The National Fatherhood Initiative website cites a number of studies showing that:
- “Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor.”
- “Children born to single mothers show higher levels of aggressive behavior than children born to married mothers.”
- “Infant mortality rates are 1.8 times higher for infants of unmarried mothers than for married mothers.”
- “A 2002 Department of Justice survey of 7,000 inmates revealed that 39 percent of jail inmates lived in mother-only households.”
- “There is significantly more drug use among children who do not live with their mother and father.”
- “A poor parental bond with one’s father was highly predictive of depression, a well-known predictor of alcohol abuse and related problems for both females and males.”
- “Youth who have experienced divorce, separation, or a nonunion birth have significantly higher levels of behavioral problems in school than do youth who have always lived with both biological parents.”
These depressing findings make it all the more disturbing that different groups, movements and even political parties wish to redefine marriage and family. Do fruits like the sad conclusions stated above not demonstrate the folly of tampering with an institution the Creator of human beings designed?
As Jesus Christ Himself said: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6; quoting Genesis 1:27; 2:24).
This is how God designed marriage. As we show in the articles in the November-December issue of The Good News, now available online or arriving in your mailbox soon, when we reject or redefine this pattern, we reap the tragic consequences. Never let yourself be lulled into thinking that marriage doesn’t matter!
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
May 31, 201
Attention iPad owners. You can now read the Good News magazine on your iPad! A digital version of the Good News can now be downloaded from the iPad App Store. This new app is available in the Newsstand category of the store.
The Newsstand store features magazines that you can subscribe to and read on the iPad. The Good News magazine app is one of only a few Christian magazines listed in search results within the Newsstand category, which greatly helps raise our profile.
The digital issues of The Good News contain the same articles that are available in the bi-monthly print edition (and on the Good News website). As you flip through a digital issue you will notice areas within the magazine where you can tap to access Bible study aids (booklets or articles at ucg.org) or watch Beyond Today videos. Additional digital pages have been added that feature content that can be accessed from the iPad, such as United Church of God booklets that are available within iBooks or Beyond Today podcasts that can be downloaded from iTunes.
Once you download the free Good News magazine app you can download each issue to your library (starting with the January/February 2012 issue) and subscribe to get new issues when they become available. The Good News app functionality allows you to view the table of contents for each issue (and navigate directly to an article), add bookmarks to favorite pages, e-mail a page from the digital issue to a friend and search for particular keywords inside the issue. New functionality might be added over time as we try to improve the experience of reading a digital magazine.
The Good News app became available in the App Store on May 15, 2012. Since the release date the app has been downloaded over 220 times from various countries around the world without any advertising on our part. Here are some of the App Store locations from where iPad owners have downloaded the app: United States, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, China, South Africa, India, United Kingdom, Germany, Colombia, Singapore, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Brazil, Belgium, Japan, Philippines, Denmark, Republic of Korea, United Arab Emirates, France, Costa Rica, Portugal, Argentina, Thailand, South Africa, Lithuania, Israel, Russia, Norway, Barbados and Saudi Arabia.
This brand new app is available around the globe and being downloaded in numerous places. Those locations (and downloads) will only increase over time as the iPad is becoming one of the most popular mobile devices used to access Web content, including for visiting the ucg.org website.
At this time we only offer the English digital edition of the Good News within the iPad app. But, we are planning to expand the app to feature our other Good News magazine language editions beginning with the first issue published in 2013. By way of reminder, this app is only available for the Apple iPad and is not available for the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch nor is a Good New app available for any Android supported devices at this time.
Here is how to download the Good News Magazine app (you may need to download the Newsstand app first):
- Go to the App Store on the iPad.
- Search for “Good News Magazine.“
- In the iPad Apps search result, locate The Good News Magazine app and tap on “INSTALL.”
- Enter in your necessary Apple ID Password.
- Once the app is installed you can the download any issue and/or request a free digital subscription.
- Enjoy your digital version of The Good News.
We would like to thank the app development company TapEdition (and their helpful staff) that has graciously built this app and provided us the means of saving thousands of dollars. We are excited that we can now provide The Good News magazine iPad app for those around the world who are seeking to understand God’s way of life. Thank you!
Internet Managing Editor
May 3, 2012
Iran’s former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, predecessor of current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was considered a moderate leader. But regarding nuclear weapons and Israel, he said: “If one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, . . . the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
Rafsanjani was saying that if the Islamic world acquired nuclear weapons, leading to a nuclear confrontation, just one nuclear detonation inside Israel would destroy the nation. But it would be worth it, he noted, because an Israeli nuclear strike, although it might kill many millions of Muslims, would only “harm” the Islamic world and not destroy it. Israel, however, would no longer exist. Thus, in his mathematical equation, a nuclear war would be worth because while it would cost the lives of millions of Muslims, Israel would be exterminated. He concludes, “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”
What about his successor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is stringing the entire world along as he pursues nuclear weapons? He’s made no secret of his hatred for Israel. Since assuming office in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has made repeated threats to eliminate the Jewish state. Notice a few:
- “Israel must be wiped off the map” (2005).
- “The basic problem in the Islamic world is the existence of the Zionist regime [Israel], and the Islamic world and the region must mobilize to remove this problem” (2006).
- “The United States and the Zionist regime of Israel will soon come to the end of their lives” (2007).
- “The world powers established this filthy bacteria, the Zionist regime, which is lashing out at the nations in the region like a wild beast” (2008).
- “This regime [Israel] will not last long . . . This regime has no future. Its life has come to an end” (2009).
- “Israel is the most hated regime in the world . . . With Allah’s grace, this regime will be annihilated, and Palestinians and other regional nations will be rid of its bad omen” (2010).
- “I am telling you that a new and greater Middle East will be established without the existence of the U.S. and the Zionist regime [Israel]” (2011).
Ahmadinejad regularly refers to Israel as the “little Satan,” and to the United States as the “great Satan.” To them, a “Satan” is two things. It is an adversary as well as an evil spiritual entity. Ahmadinejad views the United States in both ways. In his mind America is evil because its values and morals and support of Israel are absolutely corrupt. And it is an adversary because the United States is the major obstacle in the world that prevents Islam from achieving its true destiny as the religion that is supposed to rule over the entire world. Therefore the two “satans”—United States and Israel—must be eliminated.
Does Ahmadinejad really believe this? At a 2005 Iranian conference with the theme “The World Without Zionism,” he said: “Is it possible for us to witness a world without America and Zionism? You had best know that this slogan and this goal are attainable, and surely can be achieved.”
At that conference Ahmadinejad spoke onstage in front of a large banner showing an hourglass with grains of sand falling to the bottom, depicting time running out. Clearly visible in the hourglass was a large falling grain painted with a star of David, symbol of Israel, showing that its time is over.
At the bottom of the hourglass was a grain that had already fallen and been broken. It was painted with a U.S. flag. The unmistakable symbolism of the entire banner was that the United States has to be brought down before Israel can be brought down. The “great Satan” must fall first, then the “little satan” will be no problem. (You can do an Internet image search for “The World Without Zionism” and see the images for yourself.)
The concept of dawah is a little-known teaching of some branches of Islam. In practice, it means that a Muslim leader must invite his enemies to convert to Islam before waging jihad against them. In several speeches to the UN general assembly, Ahmadinejad has done exactly this—openly urged the gathered world leaders to convert to Islam. But because Western news reporters and government officials are oblivious to the concept of dawah, they had no idea what Ahmadinejad was doing and that he was carrying out an obligation for Muslims before they initiate warfare against enemies.
Here’s part of what he said in his 2009 speech to the UN general assembly: “We emphasize that the only path to remain safe is to return to monotheism [Islam] and justice, and this is the greatest hope and opportunity in all ages and generations. Without belief in Allah and commitment to the cause of justice and fight against injustice and discrimination [in other words, accepting Islam], the world structure cannot be put right.”
Lest you think that’s an aberration, he said essentially the same thing in his UN addresses in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011 as well. So in his mind, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fulfilled this obligation to invite enemies to convert to Islam before waging jihad against them. So if Iran does successfully develop nuclear weapons, he has already warned the entire world—through his UN addresses—by repeatedly inviting them to convert to Islam and submit to Allah.
We also need to realize that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad adheres to an unusual strain of Shiite Muslim theology that believes in the imminent appearance of an Islamic messiah, called al-Mahdi, who will lead Islam to its rightful place as the dominant religion in the world. Al-Mahdi’s followers believe that it’s their duty to bring chaos to the world, and out of this chaos will come a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West.
So how does this belief play out in the real world? It means that Ahmadinejad will never voluntarily enter into any meaningful agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program. It means that any agreements are only to be used to play for time, which is exactly what we’ve seen for a number of years now, until Iran becomes a full-blown nuclear power.
Does Ahmadinejad really believe this? Let me quote from his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2011, just a matter of months ago. These were his opening words:
“In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe, and peace and blessing be upon our Master and Prophet, Mohammad, and his pure household, and his noble companions and on all divine messengers. Oh, Allah, hasten the arrival of Imam Al-Mahdi and grant him good health and victory and make us his followers and those who attest to his rightfulness.”
He said this to the United Nations general assembly, including a prayer for the quick arrival of al-Mahdi and his “victory.” What victory? Victory in leading Islam to be the dominant religion over the world.
Sadly, our government officials and world news agencies are blind to what he was really saying, so you haven’t heard this reported in the news. But that’s exactly what he meant. You can be sure that all the representatives of the Muslim nations sitting there, who understand Islamic theology, knew exactly what he was saying.
“Through international cooperation, diligence and efforts by committed world leaders and governments and through insisting on the realization of justice and the support of all other nations, we can expedite the building of a common bright future.
“This movement is certainly on its rightful path of creation, ensuring a promising future for humanity. A future that will be built when humanity initiates to trend the path of the divine prophets and the righteous under the leadership of Imam al-Mahdi, the Ultimate Savior of mankind and the inheritor to all divine messengers and leaders and to the pure generation of our great Prophet [Muhammad].
“The creation of a supreme and ideal society with the arrival of a perfect human being who is a true and sincere lover of all human beings, is the guaranteed promise of Allah. He will come . . . to lead the freedom and justice lovers to eradicate tyranny and discrimination, and promote knowledge, peace, justice freedom and love across the world . . .
“Today nations have been awakened. With the increase in public awareness, they no longer succumb to oppressions and discriminations. The world is now witnessing more than ever, the widespread awakening in Islamic lands, in Asia, Europe, and America. These movements are ever expanding their spirit everyday and influence the pursuit of the realization of justice, freedom and the creation of a better tomorrow.
“Our great nation stands ready to join hands with other nations to march on this beautiful path in harmony and in line with the shared aspirations of mankind. Let us salute love, freedom, justice, wisdom, and the bright future that awaits humankind.”
Ahmadinejad is here stating exactly what he believes: That al-Mahdi will appear soon, that he is the ultimate savior of mankind, that he is the successor and descendent of Muhammad, and that he will establish peace on earth through Islam becoming the supreme religion on earth. He also notes that Iran stands ready to lead the march on this path toward a very different world united under Islamic rule.
He lays out his beliefs for the world to see. But without an understanding of the background of Islam and his beliefs, non-Muslims have no idea what he’s really saying.
So what will happen if or when Iran finally successfully develops nuclear weapons? He’s told us. He’s given the world the invitation to convert to Islam. He’s told us his intentions, which are to pave the way for al-Mahdi to come and lead Islam to victory over the entire world.
These are Ahmadinejad’s aims for Iran. You need to read The Good News to understand the forces that are transforming our world around us and understand the wonderful and magnificent age that Jesus Christ says really lies ahead for the whole world. Learn much more in the May-June issue of The Good News, now available online and arriving in your mailbox soon!
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
April 30, 2012
About six months ago, German chess historian Gerhard Josten, author of several books on the history of chess and chess strategies, asked for permission to reprint the German translation of Mario Seiglie’s Good News article “Our Amazing Spaceship Earth” (“Unser erstaunliches Raumschiff Erde”).
The article was published as the lead article in the March-April 2007 issue of the Gute Nachrichten magazine and was to be included in a new science book with other contributions of well-known scientists to refute the Big Bang theory. While working on his book, Mr. Josten had found Mario Seiglie’s article on the gutenachrichten.org website and expressed his deepest respect for the thorough research and the quality of publication.
The permission for the reprint was granted by the United Church of God, provided the author would put a link to the source of our article and also publish it in its entirety.
Today the German office received two signed, advance copies of Gerhard Josten’s book “Ein All ohne Knall” (“A Universe without a Bang”). The soft cover book contains 269 pages and features Mr. Seiglie as a co-author. It was published on April 20 and is already listed on Amazon.de.
It is very encouraging to see that the quality of the Good News publication and the work of the Gute Nachrichten magazine is noticed and appreciated by the international academic world.
Congratulations to Mario Seiglie for his great authorship!
Jesmina Allaoua—German office
November 1, 2011
You should be receiving the November-December Good News if you haven’t already. In this issue we examine two major themes dominating the news headlines and how they tie in with biblical prophecy.
One theme is what’s happening with the U.S. economy and why. America’s economy is on increasingly dangerous ground due to profligate government spending—living beyond our means on borrowed money. What does this mean for the future of the country? What’s at the root of the problem? How can the nation get itself out of the mess it’s in?
Another theme that’s dominated the news for months is the economic crisis in the European Union that threatens to break up the eurozone and redefine the European Union. Students of Bible prophecy understand that the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation foretell a major new global power that will arise, centered in Europe, comprised of 10 leaders of nations or groups of nations forming a powerful coalition. Further, it has long appeared that a resurgent Germany would lead this end-time coalition.
Could what we are seeing now in Europe be setting the stage for the emergence of a new coalition of nations that will fulfill these prophecies? It appears increasingly clear that the current eurozone will not continue in its current configuration, and the European Union’s current 27 member states could shrink to the group of 10 leaders described in Bible prophecy.
Ironically, though smaller in size, the final union will be more powerful and influential on the world scene because it will be more unified—likely with weaker member states jettisoned somewhere along the way. We may be seeing that process begin any day now as economically distressed member states such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland drop or are forced from the next incarnation of a European Union—perhaps a true “United States of Europe” that some European leaders and decision-makers are openly talking about.
What does all this mean? Simply this—a nation’s economics are ultimately a measure of its power. For the United States, its troubled economy portends major problems ahead. There’s no easy way out—just bad choices and worse ones. And across the Atlantic, Germany—which plunged the world into two world wars in the last century—is flexing its economic muscle as it asserts leadership over Europe and its future direction.
The Good News has talked about both of these trends for years—we have talked about them because both are integral to Bible prophecy. And we want you to understand, too. We’re here to help you make sense of what’s going on in the world and to help you see where it’s headed.
We indeed live in serious times, and we need to be digging into God’s Word, seeking understanding that comes only from Him. We hope this issue helps you grow in that understanding.
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
September 1, 2011
May-June Good News: Will the World End in 2012?
The September-October Good News has been printed and should be in your mailbox shortly. The cover theme addresses a topic that has received a lot of attention in the last year—which is self-styled prophets proclaiming the end of the world in the year 2012.
Several months ago Harold Camping drew a lot of attention with his billboards and full-page newspaper ads proclaiming the end of the world on May 21. He left behind thousands of disillusioned followers when his prophecies failed to come to pass.
In recent years we’ve seen a wave of books proposing that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world in December 2012. A huge big-budget movie released last year, 2012, also built on this theme.
Obviously mankind should be concerned about where the world is headed, particularly in light of recent and ongoing news events of danger and turmoil in so many places. But how can we sort it all out? Is there a way to really understand the future?
We are blessed to know the answers, to know that God reveals what the future holds for us and all of mankind. He reveals that future in two ways—in broad outline through His Holy Days, and in more specific detail through the prophecies recorded in His Word, the Bible.
This next issue of The Good News shows, through the meaning and fulfillment of several of God’s Holy Days, that the world faces a near-term future of great concern, but beyond that lies a world of great hope! This, of course, ties in directly with the Holy Days we will soon be celebrating in congregations and at Feast sites all over the world, giving great hope to all who understand and keep them.
These Holy Days remind us of our dedication to the good news of the coming Kingdom of God and our determination to make it possible to share these truths with as many as we can reach with our message of hope. We hope you’ll join us in praying that many others will have their eyes opened and to see both the seriousness of the times in which we find ourselves and the great hope that lies beyond them.
Scott Ashley—Managing editor, The Good News
August 15, 2011
Greetings Dear Brethren,
Many exciting things are taking place here at the home office this week!
On Sunday we held an orientation picnic for the Ambassador Bible Center (ABC) incoming class of 2011-12 in the dining area and outdoor patio behind the home office. It was followed by an orientation on Monday and classes beginning bright and early on Tuesday morning. It’s always encouraging to see the excitement and enthusiasm of these young adults who are eager to dig into the Bible and learn more about God’s way of life!
We’re also pleased to see that, in spite of the recent troubles, this year’s class is substantially larger than last year’s and that it includes several international students who are coming here for Bible training that they can take back to their countries and share with others there. A total of 35 students are enrolled, of whom three are from other nations, including the Netherlands, South Africa and Colombia.
We’re also glad to see how well our several new instructors, longtime pastors Frank McCrady, Randy Stiver and Steve Myers, are fitting in. Each has a special love for and rapport with young adults, and it shows in their classes.
This week we also have other guests in town. Darris McNeely and Gary Petty are joining Mr. Myers and members of our media staff for the planning and recording of several more Beyond Today television programs.
We hear an increasing number of comments from members about the effectiveness and professionalism of the programs, and we’re grateful that doors recently opened for us to reach new people with better times and stations in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.
We very much appreciate your prayers for the continuing success of our television programs and other media efforts. Since we started airing Beyond Today on nationwide cable on WGN America last summer, we’ve received more than 48,000 responses requesting a subscription to The Good News magazine and one or more of our booklets.
Speaking of booklets, this week we’re mailing our latest booklet, Is God a Trinity? to our several thousand member households and shipping them to our international offices to be distributed to members around the world.
Those of us who realize the fallacy of the Trinity doctrine rightfully find it hard to understand why so many people believe in this deceptive teaching. You’ll be surprised at the quotes in the booklet from theologians and others who firmly believe that the Trinity is a “litmus test” for determining who is and isn’t a Christian, as they would define the term.
At the same time, many theologians and religious scholars candidly admit that the Trinity is a “divine mystery,” incomprehensible to limited human minds. One of the most amazing quotes you’ll find in the booklet, taken from a book authored by a seminary professor and an international missionary, is this: “He who would try to understand the Trinity fully will lose his mind. But he who would deny the Trinity will lose his soul.”
This aptly demonstrates what a bizarre hold this confusing doctrine has on the minds of so many millions of people!
In this booklet you’ll learn the equally strange story of how this doctrine came to be one of the foundational teachings of this world’s Christianity—developed over several centuries after the biblical writers had passed from the scene! You’ll also find many quotes from Bible resources, religious scholars and historians who openly acknowledge that the Trinity as taught today is simply not found in Scripture, but was developed and accepted long after the Bible was written.
And of course, the booklet thoroughly explains how God is revealed in the Bible—as God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son, forming a divine family into which those whom the Father has called and granted His Holy Spirit have the opportunity to enter. It’s a wonderful future almost beyond our comprehension, and one that is obscured by the deceptiveness of the Trinity doctrine.
This week’s activities at the home office—the beginning of a new ABC year, the production of new Beyond Today programs and the mailing of this new booklet (our 34th)—again show our commitment to our founding determination to preach the gospel and prepare a people, sharing the wonderful truths our Creator has revealed to us with a world in desperate need of the hope that lies within us.
As we approach the autumn Holy Days, now only six weeks away, let us always be thankful for the wonderful truth we have been given and the awesome privilege it is to be a tool in God’s hands to share these things with the world.
We deeply appreciate your faithfulness and prayers that make all of this possible.
In Christ’s service,
PS—Don’t forget to pray for the success of the Kingdom of God Bible Seminars coming up beginning September 10. We’re now up to more than 150 congregations that will be hosting them, not just in the United States but in several international areas as well. We’re seeing new people sign up daily to attend! To stay on top of the latest developments, sign up for regular updates at realtimeunited.wordpress.com by entering your e-mail address at the right side of the page.