Weekly Update by Mark Armstrong – 25 April 2014

Greetings from Tyler,

Despite the “red lines” that have already been crossed, and the subsequent warnings of “very expensive consequences” by our president and Secretary of State, a Russian invasion or Putin-inspired civil war looks increasingly likely for Ukraine. So-called “Russian separatists”, outfitted, and armed like military personnel, have attacked Ukrainian military bases, set up roadblocks and fought with Ukrainian forces. At least five “Russian separatists” have been killed in the skirmishes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin apparently is not impressed with U.S. warnings of “consequences.” The Russian military contingent adjacent to Ukraine’s eastern border is increasing in troop strength, and Russian jets are participating in war games that are underway. Putin appears to be instigating the whole thing in order to come up with an excuse to seize more of the Ukraine, even as American paratroopers have been deployed for exercises in Poland and some of the Baltic states. Obviously, that hasn’t impressed him much either.

We all have to wonder at this point whether something of major importance isn’t underway. More importantly, Europe has to be wondering whether this isn’t the start of something big. Apparently a delegation of military observers from the EU, including three German soldiers, has gone missing in eastern Ukraine which guarantees that the situation will be getting heavy attention in Germany and throughout Europe. Ukraine’s prime minister is accusing Putin of trying to instigate a “third world war.”

Though Putin’s long-range intentions are unknown, many fear that his intention is to try to reconstruct the “possessions” of the former Soviet Union, which must be of particular concern to Germany.

With the United States actively reducing its military capabilities around the world, blaming the situation on “budgetary constraints”, it may well lead to a conclusion that Europe, and more specifically Germany will be encouraged to take more responsibility for their own security. German officials have already been calling for more military involvement in the world’s hot spots. And this begins to look like a hot spot not far from Germany’s doorstep.

Another huge event (in the minds of some) is the new pope’s plan to preside over the canonization of both John Paul II and John XXIII this Sunday. Trying to figure out the difference between “beatification” and “canonization” was no simple task. Anyway, the Vatican has already got them both into heaven, and will now give them another promotion as saints. It will be interesting to see if these “saints” will be recognized in their roles of covering up priest molestation scandals worldwide. Though John Paul II was loved and respected for having supported Poland in pulling away from the Soviet Union, he was also involved in hiding out, transferring and quashing investigations into some of the most heinous priest abuses ever. That probably won’t be mentioned in Sunday’s ceremonies.

We would like to thank everyone who helped make last weekend’s festivities here in Tyler a resounding success. There was good attendance and participation for nearly all the planned events. We very much enjoyed the chance to spend time with several from Little Rock, from Yazoo City, MS, and from Austin. A few came all the way from Wisconsin. Dr. and Mrs. James Ricks were here for the Sabbath, and some may already have the DVD from that service for viewing this week. Everybody had such a good time that we are considering doing it all again next year, just in case you’re interested. But now another Sabbath is here, and we are thankful for it. Have a great one,