Friday, December 30, 2005

It is the end of the last day of work for 2005! At the end of my first full year in a new position, I have much to be thankful for. First, I am thankful that I have, by the grace of God, survived the year. The first nine months were difficult and stressful, then it evened out pretty well. I have learned more new things in the last 18 months than I ever thought possible, as I switched to representing the hospital district. Health law is really complicated.

I am also thankful for a great bunch of people who work for me and support me as I scurry around trying to cover all the bases. They have been great to give 100% to me after losing their beloved former boss to retirment.

Third, I am thankful to the Little Woman, the wonderful wife who has prayed for me and encouraged me and often waited for me to get home late for dinner. Thanks, Hon, I love you.

Fourth, I am thankful to my friends who have been understanding as I have had less time to get around than I had in my former position.

May God bless and grant us another year of success in 2006.
I'm so glad my local Christian radio station has returned to its regular format,post Christmas. I had a great time this morning listening to good music on the way to work.

The station, KCBI, played an older favorite today, Chris Machin's "Bow The Knee". It is about submitting to God even when you do not understand what He is up to. I need to get a copy of it, I really like it. I also like Chris Machin. He and his wife, Diane, have visited and sung at our church, and were just really nice people.

I have also noticed a new trend in Christian music. I heard two songs today that actually used the word "sovereign" in reference to God. Has anyone else noticed that? It is interesting to me, because most songs of the last few years were about God helping you do what you wanted to do, rather than God doing what he wills.

It was a great way to start the day. Thanks, KCBI, and my friends, Ron and Sandy, for getting the day off to a great start.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

After seeing the Chronicles of Narnia movie and hearing all the renewed interest in C. S. Lewis, I could not resist looking up my favorite quote from Mere Christianity. (For my young readers, when I was in college, we looked at Lewis, and Francis Shaeffer, with the same awe as you do John Piper).

Lewis stated the argument that Jesus' status as a great moral teacher cannot be divorced from his claims to divinity:

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon and you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
This quote is from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and is part of the morning devotion for today, based on Galatians 2:20.

Faith lays hold upon the Lord Jesus with a firm and determined grasp. She knows His excellence and worth, and no temptation can induce her to repose her trust elsewhere; and Christ Jesus is so delighted with this heavenly grace, that He never ceases to strengthen and sustain her by the loving embrace and all-sufficient support of His eternal arms. Here, then, is established a living, sensible, and delightful union which casts forth streams of love, confidence, sympathy, complacency, and joy, whereof both the bride and bridegroom love to drink. When the soul can evidently perceive this oneness between itself and Christ, the pulse may be felt as beating for both, and the one blood as flowing through the veins of each. Then is the heart as near heaven as it can be on earth, and is prepared for the enjoyment of the most sublime and spiritual kind of fellowship.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What am I missing here? The Bush administration wants to jump into the lawsuit of Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith. This suit is every monied family's worst nightmare. Smith is suing to collect from her deceased husband's estate. When Smith was a 26 year old topless dancer in Houston, she married J. Howard Marshall II, the 89 year old oil man.

This case is a probate case. It was tried in Texas probate court and Smith lost out to Marshall's son. The case should have ended there. There is no reason to treat this as more than a probate suit, except that the deceased was rich and the plaintiff is a stripper\model\headcase.

Nonetheless, the case has been to bankruptcy court, where Smith won. It was reversed in Federal District Court. Smith lost some, but not all. It was completely reversed in Federal Appeals Court. Smith lost it all, not just her top.

Now the case has been appealed to Federal Court so they can try the issue of whether the federal courts can hear state probate matters. This is where the Solicitor General comes in, filing briefs on behalf of Smith. The reason they did this is supposedly to protect federal jurisdiction. I am disappointed that the Bush Administration would ignore State sovereignty and proceed in this fashion, and especially in a case with no more merit than this.

The best part is that Smith plans to attend court. If you ever saw her tv show, where she could hardly stand up half the time and was almost always incoherent and gross, it would serve the Solicitor General right if she sits right beside him. It is no telling what will happen.
I went to see Fun With Dick And Jane today. Let me take this hit for you. It is not that funny. They were obviously more interested in making a statement about the corruption in corporate America than they were in making a comedy. The movie focuses much more on the troubles of the family than on their mad cap adventures as robbers. I guess you would expect that from a Hollywood that has become saturated with liberal politics to the extent it cannot even see the forest for the trees. The forest in this case being that Hollywood is everything and more than they complain about it corporate America.

The best part was that Alec Baldwin was typecast as a fat blowhard.

If you want to enjoy this movie, go rent the original 1977 movie withe Dick Segall and Jane Fonda. It was much more entertaining, and you already know what Alec is, so you do not need to see the movie to have it reinforeced.
Adrian Warnock summarizes the debate over Bible translations well. I feel as he does that the translation should not make assumptions for you, but translate the text as is. I think that applies to the gender question. If the text says "man", it should be translated a "man" and we can figure out who God meant by that, rather than having the translator decide and not let us know. Read his post Adrian's Blog">here.
Hello everyone. I appear to have survived Christmas, although I am taking off an extra day to make sure. As usual, it was a time of surprises and contradictions, as well as fun. Here are some.

Our church, fortunately, had a service on Sunday, Christmas Day, even though we had a Christmas Eve service. The pastor seemed genuinely glad to be there and even spiritually moved during the service. That made me happy. Also, Josh came Sunday morning, which I suppose was at least in part because I gave him a hard time about his church taking the day off. He looked really nice in his suit and tennis shoes.

We celebrated the Lord's Supper, which was really nice, and the pastor talked a lot more about Christ's death than birth, so it was kind of like Palm Sunday and Christmas rolled into one. It is sort of like the way we do Independence Day. We don't celebrate our independence at all, but we do celebrate our military, so it is Memorial Day and Independence Day rolled into one. Also, we had a video portraying Christ at the Last Supper, and you know how I feel about showing images of Christ.

The most interesting thing about church during this time was that the Pastor clearly wanted to make Christmas a sacred time, rather than a secular time. Yet, the Christmas program had secular songs. Actually, the Baby told me her Sunday School class sang Jingle Bells. That makes me cringe. Also, the sanctuary was decorated with Christmas trees and wreaths and other things that are definitely part of the secular side of Christmas. It makes me wonder if Protestants have lost the ability to discern the difference, or the knowledge of what is really going on.

The family thing was weird this year. My mother and her husband went to Denver to see his daughter. My brother and his family went to Georgia to be with his wife's family. My mother-in-law stayed home with a cousin. So, our family circle shrunk to our immediate family and the son-in-law. We invited some extra friends to fill out the table. It was nice, but it was weird.

I think that might be part of my problem with Christmas. It is weird. People string up lights all over everything, shop until they are broke and tired, eat too much, worry over the arrangements and who can be where and when, and then say we are doing it all to observe the birth of Christ. He was born in pretty humble circumstances, although he did have one big light. He also had a pretty dramatice announcement to the shepherds, although I cannot find anything that said they sang. And, tah dah, most interestingly, he never told us to celebrate his birth, only his death. At least we did that on Sunday.

I'm still glad I took an extra day off.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

If you pay any attention at all to the news, you are accustomed to hearing and seeing the president of Iran foam at the mouth. His latest rabid rant is against Western music, which he has banned. When I heard it, being a Midland kind of boy, I thought, what is wrong with Western music. It has tumbling tumble weeds and cool, clear water. But, then someone explained to me that it means music from the West, such as the U.S. and Europe. So, no Bach for Persia. Also, no Copeland, my favorite, for the Iranians.

Does this mean music from any place west of Iran? Does this mean Eastern music is ok? So, you could not listen to French music, not that you'd want to, I'm just using it as an example, but you could listen to Indian music? I’m just wondering.

I was also thinking the Pres might like old Ray Stevens. You remember Ahab, the Arab? Although I realize the Persians aren’t really Arabs, I think that kind of got lost in the jihad.

If Iran’s president doesn’t behave better, we’ll send Teresa Heinz Kerry to see him. You might remember her as the money behind the loser of the last presidential election and the woman who proved you do not have to be poor to be trailer trash (this was before Paris Hilton took over the job). Well, now she says our president is soft on Iran. This is while her husband thinks the president is too hard on Iraq. I guess we should have invaded Tehran instead of Baghdad to make the Kerry’s (or is it the Heinz’s) happy.

The thing that has Terri unhappy is Ahmadinejad's claim that Israel should be wiped off the map. That pretty much upset everybody, especially Israel, which likes the map just like it is (except for that guy that keeps giving up large chunks of it). But I don’t think Congress would let us invade Iran over it. Not that I wouldn’t like to.

Terri said "The only way to prevent the virus (this is a metaphor for hatred of Israel)from surviving and spreading is to attack, killing it with the strongest possible condemnations before it has a chance to mutate and spread." She does not mean attack with weapons, but with words, preferably at the U.N. and C.N.N. and any other N's we can think of. We know how often the U.N. fixes things. Just ask Rwanda.

I suggest we make a video of the Grand Poo Bah Anan saying “Bad president, no no!” and send it to old Ahmadinejad!

However, I don’t think old Ter needs to worry too much. I think the Israelis will take a dim view of the process and move to stop it. They did it to Iraq and I think they’ll do it again.

Here are some interesting signs.

First, Israeli military intelligence chief Farkash said Israel will have failed diplomatically if its efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program is not referred to the U.N. Security Council before the end of March. Behind this rather tame sounding sentence is a deadline and a statement that they tried diplomatic channels before resorting to force.

Second, Israeli Defense Minister Mofaz said Israel must get ready for non-diplomatic actions with regard to Iran.

Third, Benjamin Netanyahu made a campaign promise to attack Iran. He could never make it in the U.S. as a Democrat, could he.

The Times of Britain claims that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has already ordered preparations for the attack, including ground troops and air strikes. Guess when? The end of March.

If I lived in Iran, I’d buy a helmet.
In the middle of the battle for Christmas this year, Congress acted and passed a resolution supporting Christmas. Here is what it said:

Whereas Christmas is a national holiday celebrated on December 25; and
Whereas the Framers intended that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States would prohibit the establishment of religion, not prohibit any mention of religion or reference to God in civic dialog: Now, therefore be it resolved, that the House of Representatives –
(1) Recognizes the importance of the symbols and traditions of Christmas;
(2) Strongly disapproves of attempts to ban references to Christmas; and
(3) Expresses support for the use of these symbols and traditions, for those who celebrate Christmas.
But note this: 22 Democrats voted against it!

Many have claimed that Christians won the battle, since Congress passed the resolution and several retailers said they would return to the use of “Merry Christmas” next year. However, given that many of our largest churches closed for the day, I wonder if we can claim victory. I think large numbers of our people were not defeated, they just surrendered.
Christmas is rocking along. Hope it is going well for you. The College Daughter, the Baby and I went to the Christmas Eve Candle Light Service last night. We used to do the service at midnight. I guess it was our nod to the Catholic Christmas Mass.

Protestants are ever practical, however, and so we realized it was hard on parents with young children. It took a few years, but the deacons finally noticed that the volume of crying increased as the hour went on. Then, some of the older folks fell asleep and dropped their candles. So, we moved it to 6pm.

The one variance this year was the appearance of two young men serving with the Marines in Iraq and who have just returned home. They thanked the congregation for its prayer support, and encouraged us that things were doing well in Iraq, the Iraqis like us and morale is good. They received a standing ovation.

We ended the service with the traditional lights out, candle lit singing of Silent Night.

The Little Woman unfortunately had to work. Nurses, like policemen and firemen have to work and protect and serve regardless of the holiday. Thanks to all of you. Because of you, the rest of us have a Merry Christmas knowing you are there.

We did mourn the inability to go to Starbucks, as they closed at 6pm. However, we are glad all our friends there got to go home and have fun with their families.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"As God will be worshiped solely, and wholly, so He will be worshipped constantly." Arthur Salwey, Puritan.

Have a Blessed Christmas! Have great joy, as declared by the angels at His birth.

Go to church on Sunday and thank your pastor for making it happen.

And, call Josh and wake him up.
My kind of association.
The only time Malcolm Muggeridge voted was for a candidate who had at one time been committed to an asylum. Upon his release, the asylum, gave him a certificate of sanity. Muggeridge said he had to vote for the guy. What other candidate had such a certificate?
Another way of putting the thesis of this book is found in the Introduction. “The acid test of biblical God-centeredness – and faithfulness to the gospel – is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever? Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to your worth, or as a way to enjoy God’s worth forever?” John Piper, God Is The Gospel.
A recent survey shows that 54% of Americans support the confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the Supreme Court. Americans do not, of course, get to elect said judge in any fashion other than through our elected representatives. So, those numbers may not translate into the same percentage of Senate votes.
Funny video here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Here is a challenge to your thinking about education. We all say our schools have problems, but we do not seem to get them fixed. Maybe that means we have misdiagnosed the problems. Someone said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.

Two guys at the Manhattan Institute think our perception of the education problem is wrong. They are Jay Greene and Marcus Winters. They say nearly all we believe about the role of money, class size and testing is wrong. Here are their findings.

• The average total of federal and state spending for education is almost $500 billion each year for public K-12 schools. That comes to about $10,000 per pupil per year. It is more than the $430 billion spent on national defense in 2004.

• Studies of class-size show no effect by reducing class size. While the average student-to-teacher ratio dropped from 22.3 in 1970 to 16.1 in 2002, student achievement did not improve.

• School teachers make more than other public servants. For example, in 2002, the average elementary school teacher earned $30.75 per hour. Firefighters earned $17.91 per hour and police officers $22.64.

• The main obstacle to college attendance for low-income and minority students is academic. We assume it is financial. However, out of the 4 million students that enter high school each year, only 2.8 million graduate. Worse, only 1.3 million meet college admission requirements.

• High- and low-stake standardized tests produce similar results. Those of you in Texas will appreciate that comment.

If Greene and Winters are correct, and the data indicates they are, most of the education establishment and legislative bodies are insane. And we are insane for supporing them.
The U.S. Department of Education has released a new study showing that 11 million American adults (16 and older) do not understand simple English. I’m not sure how they did the study, but no one who has picked up dry-cleaning, ordered a hamburger at a drive through or worked in a hospital would be surprised.

No one who has visited a high school lately would be surprised either. There are at least two classes of people in high school. Broadly speaking, there is a class of bright, learning, active people. Then there is the class of unengaged, dull and uncaring people. They may be into drugs, alcohol, sports, video games or sleeping, but they are not learning. Their parents are not encouraging them to learn in many instances. They are doomed.

And you are doomed, as an educated person, because they are not going to get your hamburger order right, or get the right level of starch in your shirts or be able to understand you tell them what is wrong with them so they can get well. The law forces us to have interpreters for people who do not speak the national language, but soon we will need special interpreters for the indigenous population that neglected to learn the language (or anything else useful).

Another thing going on is the declining rate of English literacy among native Spanish speakers. The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy showed literacy increasing for almost every segment of the population. However, scores for Hispanics generally and native Spanish speakers specifically dropped. The average score for native Spanish speakers is now at the the “below basic” mark.

You have to think that the increase in Hispanic immigration, especially illegal, contributes to this. Illegal immigrants are less likely to be enrolled in English programs. They seek jobs where they can speak Spanish or broken English, they live in neighborhoods where Spanish is spoken and do not melt into the English pot. For them, America is just a suburb of Mexico, but with more jobs.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Josh Orr is posting at Protestant Pub. Go read it. Here.

Monday, December 19, 2005

At a meeting I went to this morning, the speaker said there were 165,000 households in Texas as Katrina evacuees. Two-thirds of them have no work history. NO WORK HISTORY!!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Al Mohler: Like many admirers of Lewis' work, I harbored deep suspicions that the movie would not be faithful to the book. After all, the movie world has robbed and pillaged many of history's greatest works of literature. Furthermore, given the unmistakable Christian allusions in Lewis' work, The Chronicles of Narnia would be particularly susceptible to cinematic subversion.

Those fears were unfounded. The film is a tour de force, combining faithfulness to Lewis' story with a wonderful cast. Watching the film is an exciting and fulfilling movie experience. I am not an expert in cinematography, nor would I pose as an expert on film technique. Still, from the vantage point of a film lover who had reservations about this adaptation, this movie has been worth the wait.
Melvin Laird was President Nixon’s secretary of defense and was the chief architect of the withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam. He recently broke a 30-year silence about foreign-military affairs to discuss Iraq with “Iraq: Learning the Lessons of Vietnam,” in Foreign Affairs magazine. His conclusion?

"President Bush does not have the luxury of waiting for the international community to validate his policies in Iraq. But we do have the lessons of Vietnam. In Vietnam, the voices of the “cut-and-run” crowd ultimately prevailed, and our allies were betrayed after all of our work to set them on their feet. Those same voices would now have us cut and run from Iraq, assuring the failure of the fledgling democracy there and damning the rest of the Islamic world to chaos fomented by extremists. Those who look only at the rosy side of what defeat did to help South Vietnam get to where it is today see a growing economy there and a warming of relations with the West. They forget the immediate costs of the United States’ betrayal. Two million refugees were driven out of the country, 65,000 more were executed, and 250,000 were sent to “reeducation camps.” Given the nature of the insurgents in Iraq and the catastrophic goals of militant Islam, we can expect no better there.

As one who orchestrated the end of our military role in Vietnam and then saw what had been a workable plan fall apart, I agree that we cannot allow “another Vietnam.” For if we fail now, a new standard will have been set. The lessons of Vietnam will be forgotten, and our next global mission will be saddled with the fear of its becoming “another Iraq.”'
Just in case you were wondering if there were still any differences between Catholics and Protestants, besides the fact that the Catholics have church on Christmas, check out this announcement from the Vatican on November 29. Pope Benedict XVI declared a “plenary indulgence” for Catholics who honored the Virgin Mary on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 8. (I hate it now that I missed the chance, but I notice he limited it to Catholics anyway. What does a Separated Brethren have to do to get a break here?)

A plenary indulgence, by the way is "a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilty has already been forgiven." This is according to Pope Paul VI, Indulgentiarum Doctrina (1967). The Pope can degree indulgences, since he is Christ’s representative on terra firma, and sometimes he delegates it to the bishops. The cool thing is you can obtain indulgences for yourself or for souls in Purgatory. So, if you think Aunt Mary, although a good Catholic, might be spending a long time in purgatory to burn off some sins, you can spring her with an indulgence. Or, if you are selfish, take care of the old sins you are worried about. All you have to do is celebrate the feast of Immaculate Conception.

Or you could do a random act of kindness. Just do some research and find some Catholic who recently died, and give the indulgence to them. Just imagine, here they are just roasting away in Purgatory and, bam! They are sprung. It is kind of like when Mormons baptize for the dead. You are sitting around feeling bad because you aren’t in the celestial heaven with the Mormon elders, because they are, after all, a fun bunch, and bing bang boom, up you go because some Mormon guy was nice enough to get dunked just for you.

To get this particular indulgence, you had to “participate in a sacred function in honor of the Virgin, or at least offer open testimony of Marian devotion before an image of Mary Immaculate exposed for public veneration, adding the recitation of the Our Father and of the Creed, and some invocation to the Virgin." The Mary thing is becoming increasingly big in Catholic circles, and it has always been big. But they want it to be bigger. And the Pope doesn’t want to do it alone. When he renders public homage of praise to Mary, the Pope has the heartfelt desire that the entire Church (Catholic church) join with him, so that all the faithful, united in the name of the common Mother, become ever stronger in the faith, adhere with greater devotion to Christ, and love their brothers with more fervent charity. And honoring Mary will evidently do all that, plus spare your loved ones some heat.

The Pope declared the indulgence to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. (I was glad it was over, too, but did not really celebrate.)

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Calvinist Tatoo.
Dr. Paul J. Dean, pastor of Providence Baptist Church in Greer, South Carolina, also weighs in on Christmas Day church closings in a column here: .
Here is some trivia about social security numbers. The first three numbers are an area number. Area numbers are assigned to each state, starting on the east coast and moving west.

The middle 2 numbers are the group number. Group numbers are assigned in specific odd and even number sequences determined by when and where your application was processed. The final four numbers are your serial number.

Social security numbers are never re-assigned. Over 415 million have been issued.

The lowest number, 001-01-0001, was assigned to Grace Owen of New Hampshire in 1936.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

One of my favorite moments of last year was Al Gore’s giving an impassioned outdoor speech on global warming. I enjoyed it because he gave it during a snow storm.

Now, it appears that December is headed toward becoming one of the 10 coldest Decembers in the last 100 years. The only thing better than that, is that this information comes out right after a U.N. conference on climate change this week, that claimed the Earth is getting warmer. Of course, they blamed most of it on the United States. Bill Clinton even joined the criticism. No doubt he thinks his wife would fix this if she were in the White House. (If they get in, will they bring back the furniture they stole?)

Joe Bastardi is a senior meteorologist with He said weather patterns across the country show below-normal temperatures. Still colder forecasts are coming.

Get a load of these temperatures: 17.5 degrees below normal in Omaha; 14.1 degrees below normal in Indianapolis;13.9 degrees below normal in Chicago; and 11.9 degrees below normal in Denver. If that is global warming, I do not want to experience global cooling.
"Brethren, we must preach the doctrines; we must emphasize the doctrines; we must go back to the doctrines. I fear that the new generation does not know the doctrines as our fathers knew them."
—John A. Broadus

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Babies are born with only two fears: fear of falling and loud noises. All other fears are learned.
A teenager brought home a bad report card. His angry father said "this is the worst report card I've ever seen. You made five F's! How could you do that?"

The son said "What do you think it is, Dad, heredity or environment?"
I have been doing a lot of thinking about Christmas lately. I apologize in advance to my friends and family who are able to take the whole thing at face value and enjoy it. I can only take comfort in the fact that, if you have been my friend for more than 3 weeks, you know I cannot do that. This is why the Little Woman should be nominated for sainthood.

I read an interesting article today by Umberto Eco, the author. He called it “God isn't big enough for some people”. He has a little problem with Christmas, too, it seems. He also sees it as part of a bigger problem.

Eco said “We are now approaching the critical time of the year for shops and supermarkets: the month before Christmas is the four weeks when stores of all kinds sell their products fastest. Father Christmas means one thing to children: presents. He has no connection with the original St Nicholas, who performed a miracle in providing dowries for three poor sisters, thereby enabling them to marry and escape a life of prostitution.”

I do not know much about St. Nicholas, except he was not Southern Baptist and not a Calvinist most likely. I would agree with Eco, though, and transliterate his evidently Catholic thought this way: Christmas is more about shopping than Christ.

Actually, here is the whole article. It is worth reading without my comments (not as good, maybe, but worthwhile. : )

Human beings are religious animals. It is psychologically very hard to go through life without the justification, and the hope, provided by religion. You can see this in the positivist scientists of the 19th century.

They insisted that they were describing the universe in rigorously materialistic terms - yet at night they attended seances and tried to summon up the spirits of the dead. Even today, I frequently meet scientists who, outside their own narrow discipline, are superstitious - to such an extent that it sometimes seems to me that to be a rigorous unbeliever today, you have to be a philosopher. Or perhaps a priest.

And we need to justify our lives to ourselves and to other people. Money is an instrument. It is not a value - but we need values as well as instruments, ends as well as means. The great problem faced by human beings is finding a way to accept the fact that each of us will die.

Money can do a lot of things - but it cannot help reconcile you to your own death. It can sometimes help you postpone your own death: a man who can spend a million pounds on personal physicians will usually live longer than someone who cannot. But he can't make himself live much longer than the average life-span of affluent people in the developed world.

And if you believe in money alone, then sooner or later, you discover money's great limitation: it is unable to justify the fact that you are a mortal animal. Indeed, the more you try escape that fact, the more you are forced to realise that your possessions can't make sense of your death.

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death. We in Europe have faced a fading of organised religion in recent years. Faith in the Christian churches has been declining.

The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we're all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.

G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: "When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn't believe in nothing. He believes in anything." Whoever said it - he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

The "death of God", or at least the dying of the Christian God, has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church -- from strange pagan cults and sects to the silly, sub-Christian superstitions of The Da Vinci Code.

It is amazing how many people take that book literally, and think it is true. Admittedly, Dan Brown, its author, has created a legion of zealous followers who believe that Jesus wasn't crucified: he married Mary Magdalene, became the King of France, and started his own version of the order of Freemasons. Many of the people who now go to the Louvre are there only to look at the Mona Lisa, solely and simply because it is at the centre of Dan Brown's book.

The pianist Arthur Rubinstein was once asked if he believed in God. He said: "No. I don't believe in God. I believe in something greater." Our culture suffers from the same inflationary tendency. The existing religions just aren't big enough: we demand something more from God than the existing depictions in the Christian faith can provide. So we revert to the occult. The so-called occult sciences do not ever reveal any genuine secret: they only promise that there is something secret that explains and justifies everything. The great advantage of this is that it allows each person to fill up the empty secret "container" with his or her own fears and hopes.

As a child of the Enlightenment, and a believer in the Enlightenment values of truth, open inquiry, and freedom, I am depressed by that tendency. This is not just because of the association between the occult and fascism and Nazism - although that association was very strong. Himmler and many of Hitler's henchmen were devotees of the most infantile occult fantasies.

The same was true of some of the fascist gurus in Italy - Julius Evola is one example - who continue to fascinate the neo-fascists in my country. And today, if you browse the shelves of any bookshop specialising in the occult, you will find not only the usual tomes on the Templars, Rosicrucians, pseudo-Kabbalists, and of course The Da Vinci Code, but also anti-semitic tracts such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

I was raised as a Catholic, and although I have abandoned the Church, this December, as usual, I will be putting together a Christmas crib for my grandson. We'll construct it together - as my father did with me when I was a boy. I have profound respect for the Christian traditions - which, as rituals for coping with death, still make more sense than their purely commercial alternatives.

I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.

As churches close for Christmas, have secular programs and adopt commercial standards for our observance, let's remember when we do we forfeit our pulpit. We lose our right to speak and we fail to offer the one thing that brings meaning to life and the ability to face death. It is Christ or nothing, isn't it?

This man who has abandoned the church sees it. I pray he finds the church again. I pray there is a church there to find.

Go here for an interesting and funny post about Hyper Calvinism.
I know that you can do all things,and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2
Robert Heinlein: “When only cops have guns, it’s called a “police state.”

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Eugene McCarthy has also died. McCarthy had a career in politics as a liberal democrat. When he ran for president, he was the darling of the left, especially among college students. He did not have a prayer of winning, but we did not know it then.

The last of the pre-baby boomer generation is passing away. xmifhow
Richard Pryor has died. Pryor vacillated between nasty stage humor and movie roles that were caricatures of black people. It is somewhat surprising that he made it to 65. He had a huge drug habit for years and nearly killed himself once freebasing cocaine, when he ignited himself.

Friday, December 09, 2005

This is where Liberalism leads. Vancouver Health officials operate a facility for heroin injection. No, I am not kidding. The facility opened in 2003 as a test site, and its operators now want to make it permanent. They even want to add additional clinics to meet high demand. Pun intended.

The clinic oversees 800 heroin injections daily. The Chief Medical Officer of British Columbia said "It's all-round positive, with no downsides." Many of you would count 800 heroin injections per day as a downside.

The clinic is located in the Downtown Eastside District of Vancouver. More than 5,000 heroin addicts live there in a 10 block area. Here is a downside. Do you think you can walk down the street at night there and be safe? This neighborhood is Canada’s poorest. It is hard to be rich when you shoot up constantly.

The theory is that they will reduce overdose deaths, hepatitis and HIV. The addicts buy their own drugs and bring them. It is still illegal to buy heroin. Then, they inject themselves in the clinic, under “medical supervision”. If they overdose, there are emergency services. There are about 50 of these in Europe. That explains a lot to me.

You see, in Europe and Canadian, they view drug addiction as a health issue primarily, rather than a criminal issue. So, the government now wants to operate its own opium den so that it is safer than the privately owned one. The next thing Vancouver wants to experiment with is free prescription heroin. This is to reduce crime. Heroin addicts are less likely to kill you for your wallet if they can get their narcotic for free.

It also keeps addicts off the streets. Vancouver is known for having thousands of addicts shooting up right there on the street. Addicts also tend to litter. Therefore, Vancouver is also known for the syringes left lying around on the street, the park and in the libraries. Police have started to crack down on such public use. This was met by protest, of course. Advocates for the addicts said the police crackdown is cruel because the clinic can only serve some of the many addicts. I feel a tear coming on.

"It's just a really destructive thing," said Ann Livingston of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.

Not only that, but the clinic is discriminatory. No place is provided for those who smoke their coke or heroin, rather than inject it. The poor things just have to find their own places to inhale narcotics into their drug addled brains.

I guess it is cheaper to open clinics and let people kill themselves than it is to conduct the war on drugs as we have done in the United States. However, it is painful to think you just write these people off as addicts and help them stay there. It sounds a lot like financial welfare: the government gives you money to stay of sight. You can take it if you have no self respect and are willing to continue in your pitiful state.

I am grateful that God kept me from trying heroin, LSD, marijuana or cocaine as it swirled around the campuses of the ‘70s. I hate to think I might be cowering in an alley, sticking a dirty needle into my arm and waiting for a rush that is never as good as the last one.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

In the midst of the battle to fight the secularization of Christmas, some big churches have surrendered.

Christmas falls on Sunday this year. If you were celebrating the birth of Christ, what better way to do it? It really will be a Christ Mass on Sunday of sorts.

Some of the big churches closing down are Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, Southland Christian Church in Kentucky, Fellowship Church in Grapevine Texas, and North Point Community Church in Georgia.

Various reasons are given for closing the Lord’s House on the Lord’s Day. Some cite low attendance. Some say it is a family day and they do not want to interfere with family activities. Another point is that it is a waste of the time of all the staff and volunteer workers when fewer people attend. Willow Creek said it was not the most effective use of their staff. (I know you can hear my head exploding even in cyberspace.)

Given the battle that has been raging this year between Evangelicals and secularists over the observance of Christmas, the closings have come as a shock and disappointment to many. I am disappointed, but not shocked, buy more about that later.

David Wells, a professor at Gordon-Corwell Theological Seminary weighed in on the side of the critics. He said "This is a consumer mentality at work: 'Let's not impose the church on people. Let's not make church in any way inconvenient. I think what this does is feed into the individualism that is found throughout American culture, where everyone does their own thing."

In contrast to these evangelical churches, Roman Catholics, Lutherans and others will see their biggest crowds of the year.

It is time for a disclosure. I am not a big fan of “mega-churches” in general. I am especially not a fan of those who, under the name of “seeker friendly”, have abandoned traditional worship in favor of entertaining shows that draw in large crowds of people. That being said, their philosophy is simply showing here. They area about generating crowds, and Christmas does not generate a crowd in churches for whom worship is secondary to personal needs and entertainment. It is more entertaining to open presents.

The spokesman for Willow Creek put it this way: "If our target and our mission is to reach the unchurched, basically the people who don't go to church, how likely is it that they'll be going to church on Christmas morning?" The problem is, it should not be your only mission to reach the unchurched. The fist mission of the church is to worship the founder and sustainer of the church or, as the Bible puts it, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and the One whose incarnation is the supposed point of the whole thing.
Although the assistant pastor at might church has said similar things, like “we are saved to witness”, we have not abandoned worship. We are not only having a service on Sunday, we are observing the Lord’s Supper.

The other point is that evangelicals have lost the point of the Lord’s Day. Christmas does not cancel the Lord’s Day. My personal feeling is that most Evangelicals reverted long ago to the pagan observation of the day, but, that aside, when it falls on the Lord’s Day, the Lord’s Day prevails. And to the lady at Willow Creek, note that we call it the Lord’s Day, not the Lost Person’s Day, and that is for a reason.

At the first observance of the birth of our Savior, angels gave praise, shepherds worshipped, and wealthy wise men traveled great distances to give him gifts. This year they would be encouraged to stay home and keep their presents for themselves.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Brian D. McLaren, the guru of the so called "Emergent Church" has written a book called "A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a Missional + Evangelical + Post/Protestant + Liberal/Conservative + Mystical/Poetic + Biblical + Charismatic/Contemplative + Fundamentalist/Calvinist + Anabaptist/Anglican + Methodist + Catholic + Green + Incarnational + Depressed-Yet-Hopeful + Emergent + Unfinished Christian."

In it he says "To be a Christian in a generously orthodox way is not to claim to have the truth captured, stuffed, and mounted on the wall. It is rather to be in a loving (ethical) community of people who are seeking the truth (doctrine) on the road of mission..." (293).

Notice his disdain for the truth. He pictures it as a dead animal head mounted as a trophy. His vision is no different than the Unitarian\Universalist church, which tolerates any belief as long as you want to come and hang out together. He just wants to move this non-believing vision into the believing church.

Two problems. First, Jesus said he is the Truth (John 14:6). That makes McLaren's philosophy wrong per se. The purpose of the church is not to sew a patchwork quilt of beliefs from various seekers who get together over coffee. It is to know the truth, teach the truth, and live the truth. Otherwise, the church is irrelevant. It has nothing to offer the local book club or motorcycle gang does not.

Second, if there is no truth to dispense, we do not need McLaren or any other guru. The blind do not need another blind man to lead them. They can stumble along in darkness just fine all by themselves.
Here is a great Christmas story from Lee Strobel, courtesy of
An Army soldier, Joshua Sparling, received a death wish while recovering at Walter Reed hospital from a gunshot wound he received in Iraq. It was in the only Christmas card he received. I think this soldier deserves better than that. I am sending him a Christmas card. You can too.
Joshua Sparlingc/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center6900 Georgia Avenue N.W.Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

If you want to send cards to other wounded soldiers, you can get names by calling Walter Reed hospital at (202)782-3501.

If you want to consider including a gift, you could always enclose a phone card to assist them in calling home during the holidays.

If you want to send a bunch of cards, you can bundle multiple cards in one big envelope and send it to the Red Cross. Send it to:
Red CrossWalter Reed Army Medical Center6900 Georgia Avenue NWHeaton Pavillion3EO5 Washington, DC 20307

Red Cross will distribute them.
Of great dismay to the Democrats, the best news of the week is that the economy is still in great shape. The growth of gross domestic product for the third quarter was a robust 4.3 percent. This level of growth is the highest average for the last 10, 20, and 30 years. It would be huge on its own, but is incredible given the (artificially) high energy prices and hurricanes.

Can you say “tax cut worked”?

The growth rate is the highest quarterly rate since the third quarter of 2003, when the Bush tax cuts kicked it. That rate was an incredible 7.25 percent annualized growth rate. The third quarter rate raises the average for the last 10 quarters to 4.1 percent, which even beats the 3.6 percent mark set for President Clinton’s term.

Remember also that this president inherited an anemic economy. Democrats criticized his economic policy, especially the tax cuts. Now the proof is in the pudding. Lower taxes and the economy will boom.
Saddam Hussein is supposed to be on trial, but it is hard to tell whether it is a trial or a circus. The head clown has now become Ramsey Clark. Clark was active in prosecuting the Vietnam War. He seems to feel he must atone for that sin by representing and supporting anyone America opposes. He represented Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian leader responsible for ethnic cleansings and other killings. That qualifies him for this assignment. He is now on the defense team of Saddam Hussein.

Clark’s latest comedy routine has been to walk out on the trial. He then returned after 90 minutes to claim the trial and the court were not legitimate. He also complained that there was not sufficient protection of the safety of the defense team. Hello, Ramsey, this is Iraq. The guy you are defending made sure no one is safe.

Clark also manifests the ability to state the obvious with a great sense of righteousness. He said “this trial can either divide or heal”. How do you say “duh” in Arabic?

Do you also notice how often liberals use the word “heal”? The first witness against Saddam has testified. He testified to how his family was tortured. He also testified to seeing a human shredder. Stories circulated before the war about Saddam and his sons using tree shredders on their victims. I don’t think there will be much healing there, Ramsey.

Clark said the defense attorneys were “heroically here to defend truth and justice". I think Clark is there to defend one of the biggest mass murderers in history.

Clark’s client added to the circus atmosphere by shouting "Long live Iraq! Long live the Arab state." He means “long live Saddam”. His cohort, Barzan, got the message and began shouting "Long live Saddam." I guess he did not think that effective, because then then shouted "Why don't you just execute us and get this over with?" That sounds somewhat contradictory to me, but I am for the latter one.

That other great voice of reason, and sympathizer with corrupt governments because it is one, the U.N., is jumping into the act, with one official stating he was deeply concerned and doubted the proceedings could ever meet international standards. I’m not sure what international standards he is referring to, but, knowing the U.N., I think it is a complaint that he has not been bribed., the liberal anti-Bush spending machine, recently took out an anti-war ad. Its theme was that American soldiers were “stuck in Iraq” at Christmas. They spent $20,000 to hire actors. They also spend 5,000 British pounds to buy film of British soldiers that they tried to fake us into believing were American soldiers. People quickly saw through the scam, however. The uniforms gave them away. Then spent money to buy media time to show the faked commercial. For example, they spent $480,000 in Georgia.

Do you want to know the great news? They received no calls, no emails and no letters as a result of the fraudulent advertisement. But, thanks for feeding the economy here and abroad.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

In the Spirit Of The Season, I am happy to report that the North Shore Mall in Peabody, Massachusetts, would not allow 4-year-old girl Michele Grigorian to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what she wanted for Christmas unless she bought a picture. The cheapest picture was $21, and Michelle’s single mom, Maria, couldn’t afford it. Little Michele burst into tears and left saying “Mommy I just want to tell Santa what I want for Christmas.”

I wonder what Santa was doing during all this: screaming “pay up or get up!” or “Elves have to make a living, too” or “that’s what you get for saying Christmas instead of Holiday”.
Two Swiss women have sued the Hotel Pennsylvania in Manhattan. They were repeatedly were bitten by bedbugs during their week long stay. My question is: why would you stay a week if you were being constantly bitten by bugs?

The women had to have medical treatment in the form of antibiotic shots. It today’s world, I should probably say injections instead of shots. People will be lining up to be bitten so they can get free drinks.

At least they did not need a face transplant. A French woman who was attacked by a dog needed one after her nose and lips were torn off in the attack. So, doctors in Amiens, France, transplanted tissue, muscles, arteries and veins from a brain-dead donor to the attack victim. I hope she does well.

I saw a movie about this once, where John Travolta got Nicholas Cage’s face and vice versa. As I remember, it was hard on Cage’s on screen girl friend. I thought I might ask Robert Redford for his face when he no longer needs it. The Little Woman has always been inordinately attracted to it.
Scientists in Arkansas (who knew!) have discovered how to make fuel from chicken fat. They used to say farmers raised pigs because nothing was wasted except the squeal. Now that may become true for chickens. From the frying pan to the Firebird, chicken is your bird.

PETA may not like this.

PETA would prefer we use human fat. That may not be a bad idea in America, given all the publicity about the obesity epidemic. Oh wait, I dropped my Oreo. Anyway, the energy companies could hire plastic surgeons who would perform liposuctions on obese people for free, then convert the fat into fuel for cars. America would get skinny and so would the Middle East.

Skinny countries would have to continue relying on chicken fat.

But then, bird flu might really be a problem. It would not only cut down on the fried chicken, but on automobile fuel. Here is a question I have: when birds get bird flu, do they run a temperature and get a runny nose, or beak? How do you know when a bird has the flu? Do they call in sick to work? Hello, I won’t be at the coop today. I think I got the flu.

Really, I think it is a form of cruel species profiling. It is just wrong to assume that, just because you are a bird, you are more likely to have bird flu. And anyway, that’s Avian Flu to you buddy. I mean, I heard they were stopping Avians at the airport just because they were birds. I’m calling Al Franken.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Another guy that is drinking too much Christmas eggnog is Canada’s former Minister of Defense, Paul Hellyer, recently said “UFOs are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head”. Like all good Canadians, and other Liberals, he blames President Bush for it. He said Darth Bush is willing to risk intergalactic war (he really used that term, Obe Won) and is developing bases and weapons to fight the War of the Worlds. This, I guess, is in his spare time when nothing is really happening in Iraq.

I really think this is part of Canada’s defense plan against the U.S. They know we won’t invade them because we don’t want all their loons in our culture.
I have a new marketing concept: LEFT BEHIND JEANS!!!!!! On the left rear pocket, we'll print "Left Behind".

I think it'll sell.
Well, Thanksgiving is over and the "Christmas Season" has begun.

I survived Thanksgiving even though I had to go to Wichita Falls to do it. It is not the end of the world, but I did see a sign saying it was 20 miles west.

We went there because my mother has moved there after getting remarried. Actually, she lives outside of Wichita Falls. We found our way there and it wasn’t too bad. They had running water and flush toilets inside the house. We petted the horse and saw a Road Runner in a tree. We did not see the coyote.

My mother waxed rhapsodic over watching the leaves change. I kept looking out the window and all I saw was Mesquite trees. They have little tiny leaves, so you would have to look real close to see any changes.

We drove home that night. We avoided any near death experiences such as we had on our last trip out of town.

I awoke the next morning and knew immediately the thing I dreaded most had happened. The time had come when I could no longer deny that it was the Christmas Season (add music from horror movie stabbing scene).

Did you ever wonder why we have to have a Christmas Season? We don’t have an Easter season, or a Thanksgiving season. We do have a tax season. It has the same effect on my bank account.

My favorite Christian radio station, KCBI, has begun playing Christmas music practically full time. They are even playing secular Christmas music. I have switched channels. I am going back to ‘70s rock music in protest. I don’t want to hear four weeks of songs about snow we don’t have, good feelings we don’t feel and strange words that could only be sung by people who have drunk too much egg nog.

Maybe I am just depressed because Nick and Jessica have broken up. I just knew their marriage would last. Where else but Heaven could a marriage be made between a former contemporary Christian music singer turned pop tart, whose father knows her breast size, and the former member of a boy band?

Jessica has made a public plea that their privacy be respected. What privacy would that be? The privacy they gave up when they allowed their newlywed life to be made into a tv show? Or the privacy they have getting their picture taken and published constantly, making movies, or commercials? Maybe Jessica could recover faster if she made a Christmas album.

They could play it on Christian radio.

I also get tired of all the hoopla from religious people who claim society is taking Christianity out of Christmas. The American Family Association is going after retailers who are referring to the “Holiday Season” rather than Christmas. Heaven knows you could not have a family without Christmas.

Please remember it was a pagan holiday before the Catholics took it over. All the partying and presents are hangovers from the pagan past. It is a law of nature, things revert back to their lowest state. The thin veneer of Christianity has never more than thinly veiled the pagan aspect of the celebration and now it is wearing thinner.

The next thing you know, we’ll have secular music in our church Christmas program.


This year, my consternation will be fueled by the onslaught of marketing for the Chronicles of Narnia junk. I guess the estate of C. S. Lewis is short of cash. With the movie coming out, the push is on to sell stuff associated with the work of fantasy. There are book sets, DVDs of animated versions (Mr. Lewis, by the way, opposed the creation of an animated version and would not allow it during his lifetime. Sorry Clive.), the conservative web site, is advertising it as the Bible Based Blockbuster. The alliteration suggests that a preacher made up the ad copy. I wonder if it ends with a poem.

I originally intended to buy it all, but I have no place to put it. My closet is full of Purpose Driven Life stuff. I moved to the garage my Secrets of the Vine key chains and Prayer of Jabez calendars. The Thomas Kinkade coffee mugs, mouse pads and pajamas went to the attic.

I also have to prepare myself for the preachers who will tout the Chronicles movie as the next great thing that will change the world. The same guys who thought Mel Gibson’s “Passion” would do it, will jump on the Narnia bandwagon next.

You know the guys who have gone straight to the heart of the matter are the Left Behind movie makers. They are releasing their next movie directly to churches. I think it is called “Left Behind II: Still Left Behind”.

Monday, November 28, 2005


11:1-5 The Northern Alliance

11:1 When Jabin, king of Hazor, heard of this, he sent to Jobab king of Madon, and to the king of Shimron, and to the king of Achshaph, 2 and to the kings who were in the northern hill country, and in the Arabah south of Chinneroth, and in the lowland, and in Naphoth-dor on the west, 3 to the Canaanites in the east and the west, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, and the Jebusites in the hill country, and the Hivites under Hermon in the land of Mizpah. 4 And they came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. 5 And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom to fight with Israel.

“Jabin” means “the intelligent” and is probably a title rather than a compliment, such as Pharoah in Egypt or Ben-Hadad in Syria. . The name shows up a few other times in the Old Testament, such as Judges 4:2. Jabin tried to accomplish in the north what Adoni-zedek failed to accomplish in the south, an alliance that could defeat the Israelites or, in reality, could defeat the Lord.

This alliance is bigger and from a larger area. Four cities, several regions and six peoples are involved.

As Adoni-zedek was the chief of the Canaanites in the South, Jabin was a leader in the North since he was king of an important city, Hazor. Hazor is now the largest Biblical Era archeological site in Israel. It is in the area later awarded to the tribe of Napthali, according to Joshua 19:36. It is located about 10 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. Its location allowed the city to dominate a main brand of the Way of the Sea, or “Via Maris”. This commercial and military road led from Egypt to Mesopotamia through Syria and the Hittite region, or Anatolia.

Hazor is mentioned in the cuneiform tablets that compose the royal documents of Mari, or Tell Hariri, located in modern Syria (see picture). It was important enough for Hammarabi to correspond with its rulers. It had a population of around 40,000 at its peak.

Joshua described Hazor as the “head of all those kingdoms” (Joshua 11:1-5, 10). Later, during the time of the Judges, when the northern Israelite tribes were subjected to oppression by their Canaanite neighbors, it was Hazor’s military commander Sisera who commanded the coalition of the “kings of Canaan” in their battle at the “waters of Megiddo”. See Judges 5:19-20.

Solomon rebuilt the city. It was inherited by the northern kingdom of Israel following the division of Solomon’s kingdom. Ben-Hadad I of Damascus invaded Israel at the request of King Asa of Judah and destroyed the city. It was rebuilt either by Omri or Ahab, doubling the size of Solomon’s city. It fell for the last time to the armies of Assyria during Tiglath-pileser’s first campaign against Israel in 733 BCE, according to II Kings 15:29.

This alliance produced a formidable fighting force, with an army so big it had as many soldiers as grains of sand on the seashore, which is Hebrew for humongous. They also had horses and chariots. The chariots were probably built of wood, but overlayed with iron for armor. It would be daunting to see this army head toward you. They had infantry, cavalry and an armored division. But the Lord had prepared Joshua and Israel by winning battles against smaller forces, sometimes by miraculous means. The believed God and participated in the victory.

11:6-9 Another Victory

6 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel. You shall hamstring their horses and burn their chariots with fire.” 7 So Joshua and all his warriors came suddenly against them by the waters of Merom and fell upon them. 8 And the Lord gave them into the hand of Israel, who struck them and chased them as far as Great Sidon and Misrephoth-maim (“glass smelting houses”), and eastward as far as the Valley of Mizpeh. And they struck them until he left none remaining. 9 And Joshua did to them just as the Lord said to him: he hamstrung their horses and burned their chariots with fire.

God encouraged Israel not to be afraid, despite the size of the army. Psalm 20:7 says some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. The Israelites had the opportunity to put their trust to the test. Joshua and the Israelites rushed them and defeated them. Joshua hamstrung the horses, which means to cut their hamstring so they cannot run. He also burned their chariots. God provided a demonstration that he is more powerful than chariots or horses. He also did not allow them to keep the horses and chariots and have the temptation to trust in them in the future. The Lord wanted all their trust to be in Him. In fact, the Lord commanded that when a king was appointed, he was not to accumulate large numbers of horses or to return to Egypt for more horses, because the Lord said “you are not to go back that way again.” See Deuteronomy 17:16.

11:10-15 Joshua Destroyed the Cities

Joshua burned Hazor as he had Jericho and Ai, and destroyed it, then destroyed the people in the other cities. The Israelites kept the livestock and valuables as spoils, but not the people. Joshua obeyed the commands of Moses in this regard. He is shown as an exemplary leader who is faithful to God’s law. He is a model for future leaders as well as a worthy successor to Moses. In addition, God fulfilled his promise in Deuteronomy 6:10-11 that Israel would inherit large, flourishing cities they did not build.

11:16-23 Joshua Conquered Canaan

Verse 16-17 tells us the areas conquered. Through this series of battles, Joshua and the Israelites conquered the bulk of the land of Canaan.

Verses 18-20 are reflective, putting the events of the conquest in the proper historical and theological perspective. Verse 18 says he made war a long time with all those kings, so we can tell the fighting went on for some time, many days, even though the summaries are brief.

Verse 20 tells us God orchestrated the conquest. The Lord hardened the hearts of the Canaanites to fight against Israel so they would be destroyed. Only the Gibeonites tried to make a treaty with Israel. The time had come for judgment, and God used Israel to execute it. Moses prophesied this in Deuteronomy 7:1-2 and gave them instructions to carry it out. It is also a fulfillment of Genesis 15:16 in that God have the land to Abraham’s descendants and brought about the judgment of the Amorites.

Psalm 44:1-3 commemorates the victories in Canaan.

The last fighting was against the Anakites. The time reference is vague here. This battle may have been part of the southern campaign, as it fits there geographically. But the enemy was so significant it is mentioned last.

Joshua cut them off or cut them out of the hill country. The word means to uproot and exterminate. Only one note of failure is noted. In verse 22, it says “only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod did some [of the Anakim] remain. These cities are in Philistine territory, the southwest portion of Canaan, along the Mediterranean coast.

Remember the Anakim? When the spies were sent into Canaan by Moses, the say the descendents of Anak there, according to Numbers 13:22. In verse 28, the spies seem to be afraid of them. They said “the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there.” The called them the Nephilim and said they were so big the Israelites felt like grasshoppers next to them. They thought of them as giants.

These cities later cause problems for the Israelites. One particular mention is a battle that made David famous, in 1 Samuel 17. David fought a giant named Goliath of Gath.

1 Samuel 5:1 records an event where the Philistines captured the ark and took it to Ashdod. Judges 16:1 records an incident where Samuel came to Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute. So you see all three of these Philistine cities continue to plague Israel after they were not conquered. In Numbers 33:55, the Lord said those inhabitants of the land you allow to remain will become barbs in you eyes and thorns in your sides.

Verses 23 gives us the summary of the narrative. Joshua conquered the land and gave it as an inheritance to Israel, allotting the land by tribes. And they had rest from war. This rest was given by God, but was temporary. There would be more fighting later. But, in this rest, Joshua would distribute the land and the people would begin to settle it. It was reached by those who had faith in the Lord, while those who had not believed and had rebelled were not allowed to enter into this rest.

Hebrews 3 and 4 explain this to us and uses this rest as a type of the rest offered by Christ. It is, of course, the better rest. It is a rest from works (Hebrews 4:10) and is entered into by faith. We obey by believing and, if we believe, we enter his rest.

Joshua 12 is a list of the kings conquered by Moses and Joshua as leaders of Israel and servants of God.


We do not have to fear the size of the opposition or the obstacle if God has promised us the victory.

The Lord wants us to place our trust in Him and not in ourselves. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Winning small battles of faith prepares us for larger battles. When we are faithful in small things, God entrusts larger things to us.

Don’t use the devil’s tools to win your battles. Rely on the Lord.

Friday, November 25, 2005

This, then, is the foundation of sanctification in Reformed theology. It is rooted, not in humanity and their achievement of holiness or sanctification, but in what God has done in Christ, and for us in union with him. Rather than view Christians first and foremost in the microcosmic context of their own progress, the Reformed doctrine first of all sets them in the macrocosm of God's activity in redemptive history. It is seeing oneself in this context that enables the individual Christian to grow in true holiness."- Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, 'Christian Spirituality: Five Views of Sanctification'
ThirdWay, a think tank, recently published a study called “The Demographics of Abortion”. They claim that Catholics represent 27% of those having abortions each year, or about 350,000 abortions. Evangelicals account for 13%. That is about 170,000 abortions per year.
There are about 1.3 million abortions per year in America, to 4.1 million live births and 900k miscarriages.
Jonathan Edwards, Advice to Young converts: Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communon with Christ; it was the first sin that ever was, and lies lowest in the foundation of satan’s whole building.”
Once again an atheist is making a challenge in the Constitutional Court over the use of the word "God" in the national anthem. He hopes to draw attention to the line between church and state.

No, this is not in the good ole USA. It is in Russia. The atheist isAlexander Nikonov, leader of the Moscow Atheistic Society. His complaint is about the the second verse of the Russian national anthem. It is called "The land of my birth protected by God". That title makes it harder to remove all references to God.

President Putin brought back the Russian national anthem five years ago. Putin revised the text and added the word God.

Here at home, Dr. Newdow continues his crusade to remove God from society, this time asking the court to order the removal of "In God We Trust" from our currency. Sometimes you feel squeezed as a believer in God. The Muslims want to wipe you from the face of the earth. The atheists want to remove God from the face of the earth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The first official Thanksgiving Proclamation was made November 1, 1777, by the Continental Congress. Samuel Adams wrote it. Here is part of it.

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to Him for benefits received...together with penitent confession of their sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor; and their humble and earnest supplications that it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of is therefore set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor...acknowledging with gratitude their obligations to Him for benefits received. ... To prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth 'in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost'.
A politician from Northern Ireland, Maurice Mills, Hurricane Katrina is God’s judgment against homosexuals. He believes the hurricane was sent to cancel "Southern Decadence," a festival celebrating debauchery and the homosexual lifestyle which had attracted 125,000 people last year. Katrina struck New Orleans just days before this year's event, but Mills complained that the media failed to report that fact.

Mills went on to say "Surely this is a warning to nations where such wickedness is increasingly promoted and practiced. This abominable and filthy practice of sodomy has resulted in the great continent of Africa being riddled with AIDS, all at great cost to the nations and innocent children."

Another guy with the same thought is Alabama state senator Hank Erwin, who said the hurricane was God punishing the U.S. for its national breaking of biblical laws.

Mills concluded with this statement: “This is me as an individual taking a stand for God."

If the hurricane was God’s message, the homosexuals did not get it. Less than a week after the hurricane, in the midst of great suffering and sorrow, homosexuals paraded and partied down Bourbon Street. You would not want a disaster to get in the way of your sex life. A few days later, homosexuals paraded around in Lafayette, Louisiana., holding the Southern Decadence Parade in Exile. Decadence waits for no man.

Interestingly, Hurricane Wilma, which hit Florida, delayed another homosexual debauchery event, “Fantasy Fest” in Key West.

Maybe Mr. Mills has a point.
For the second year in a row, Camden, New Jersey, has been named the nation's most dangerous city based on crime statistics. Camden wrested the top spot from Detroit last year. Detroit remained No. 2 this year. The ranking is done by Morgan Quitno Press in "City Crime Rankings," an annual reference book. Camden also has consistency on its side. It has been in the top 10 for all eight years of rankings.

New Jersey has invested $175 million into the city for development projects. It has taken over parts of Camden's government. This might be a warning for the Federal Government in its compulsion to rebuild Atlantis. I mean New Orleans.

Camden says it has reduced the most serious crimes by 18 percent in the first 10 months of 2005. One resident verifies improvement by saying "I haven't heard that many gunshots". I’m not sure how many is “that many”. Last year, the city averaged a murder a week for its 80,000 residents.

Camden could raise money with a new lottery. You could guess who the next murder victim would be. Since they have one a week, it would be a real money maker.
This from Jonah Goldberg: Thanksgiving, after all, is first and foremost about giving thanks (a close second is the tradition of lying on the couch eating super-yummy turkey sandwiches off your belly like a sea otter munching a crab leg).
"...Only when God shines in us by the Holy Spirit is there any profit from the Word. Thus the inward calling, which alone is effectual and peculiar to the elect, is distinguished from the outward voice of men." - John Calvin

"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." - 1 Thess 1: 4, 5

Revelation 17:14

These shall war against the Lamb, and the Lamb shall conquer them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings; and they also shall conquer that are with him, called and chosen and faithful.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


10:1-6 The Amorite Alliance

The treaty between Israel and Gibeon was a setback for the Amorites, because it was a big city with good fighters that stood between the Amorites and Israel. Now that line of defense was removed. Coupled with the fall of Jericho and Ai, the central part of Canaan was now controlled by the Israelites. The Amorites, led by Adoni-Zedek of Jerusalem, gathered their alliance and attacked Gibeon. This was a clever attempt to retake this central city for defense purposes and discourage future alliances with Israel.

The name “Adoni-zedek” means “lord of justice”. He was known to cut off the toes and thumbs of those he punished. He was not only the king of Jerusalem, but also seemed to be a chief or leader among the Canaanites tribes and cities. That is probably why he was the one to organize the alliance. There is also historical evidence for his existence. Tell Armana is an archeological site in Egypt. Egypt had dominion over Canaan for a long time. It was the capital city built by king Akhenaten. Many tables were found there, written in Akkadian. They are called the Tell Armana tablets. Among the Tell Amarna tablets are letters from Adoni-zedec to the King of Egypt. The letters show the invasion of Israel into this area from the perspective of the invaded. Some quotes from the letters are: "Behold, I say that the land of the king my lord is ruined", "The wars are mighty against me", "The Hebrew chiefs plunder all the king's lands", "Behold, I the chief of the Amorites am breaking to pieces." Then he implores the king of Egypt to send soldiers to help him, directing that the army should come by sea to Gaza, and thence march to Wru-sa-lim (Jerusalem) by the valley of Elah.

Each of these kings mentioned in Joshua 10 is the king of a city-state. All of them are southwest of Jerusalem, except Jerusalem itself. You probably recognize some of the names. Jerusalem was evidently originally just called Salem. This is the first time it is called Jerusalem in the Bible. After Abraham’s battle with the 5 kings and the rescue of Lot, Abraham encountered Melchizedek of Salem, according to Genesis 14:18. He was called priest of God Most High. He blessed Abraham and Abraham gave him a tithe of the spoils. Jerusalem eventually became the capital and David resided there. He had to win the city from the Jebusites, who were still living there.

Hebron is 23 miles south of Jerusalem. The Canaanites called it Kiriath Arba, naming it after Arba, the greatest man among the Anakites. Abraham moved there after separating from Lot, and he built an altar there. Sarah later died there. Genesis 23 tells us Abraham bought property there from the Hittites and buried Sarah in a cave. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca and Leah were all eventually buried there. Joshua gave Hebron to Caleb, who was of the tribe of Judah. David was later anointed as king there and reigned there for 7 years.

The Israelites will continue to honor their treaty and oath to the Gibeonites.

10:7-11 (The Lightning Strike)

Joshua surprised the Amorites with an all night march to join the battle. More importantly, you see the Lord fighting the battle for them again. He gave them enemy into the hand of Israel, he threw the enemy into confusion, then he hurled large hailstones on them and killed more than the Israelites did. The Israelites pursued them for 20 miles.

10:12-15 (The Longest Day)

Joshua asked the Lord to make the sun stand still so they would have more time to fight. The Lord did so. You can almost hear the writer marvel at the wonder of God’s intercession in this way.

I am not sure the NIV has the translation right in verses 12 and 13. The NIV reads “…Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel…” But the literal translation is “and he said” and the subject is not specified. So, these words spoken to the sun may be the words of the Lord, not of Joshua, which make sense, given their commanding nature. In support of this interpretation, note that verse 14 says “surely the Lord was fighting for Israel”. The ESV preserves the ambiguity of the original text by saying “and he said in the sight of Israel”.

Notice also the reference to another book that is not in the Bible, the Book of Jashar. 2 Samuel 1:18 also refers to it. There is a claim that it was rediscovered in 1829, but that version appears to be a forgery. There is an 1840 translation on the Web. It is a re-telling of the Old Testament from creation through the time of the Judges with some extra stuff. It was printed in Hebrew in 1625. There is also a fraudulent version written in the Middle Ages. Some more cultic groups have embraced it as the true story of the O.T. times, including the House of Jehovah, the Mormans, the Rosicrucians (the forged version), and Ellen White appears to have copied some of it in her writings for the early Seventh Day Adventists.

I think the purpose of the reference is to say, I know this is fantastic, but if you don’t believe, go read that other book and see that it has the same facts.

10:16-28 Execution of the Kings

The kings were captured and imprisoned in a cave until the battles were over. Then Joshua humiliated them, executed them, and displayed their bodies. Joshua gave the Israelites an object lesson by having them place their feet on the neck of the kings to symbolize defeat and give them courage. The Bible tells us the Father told Jesus to sit at his right hand until he made his enemies a footstool for his feet. See Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25-27). Joshua also built another monument of stone to commemorate the victories.

The second Joshua will participate in a similar event. Revelation 6:15-17 says the kings of the earth will hide in caves from the face of the Father and the wrath of the Lamb. They acknowledge that no one can stand before their wrath.

10:29-43 The Southern Campaign

Joshua continued to attack, moving to destroy the southern cities that the Lord gave to him. They completely destroyed all the cities, as the Lord commanded.


When the Lord says he will give victory, he does give victory.

The Lord kept his promises to Abraham.

The Lord's judgment is awsome and to be avoided by placing our faith in Christ.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"I'd like to burn you at the stake!" growled Betty Friedan at Phyllis Schlafly during a public debate over the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) at Illinois State University in 1973.
A Saudi high-school chemistry teacher accused of discussing religion with his students has been sentenced to 750 lashes and 40 months in prison for blasphemy, officials said Thursday.

The court ruling was condemned by human rights activists, who said Mohammed Salamah al-Harbi was being imprisoned for having an "open discussion" with students.

Al-Harbi was convicted of questioning and ridiculing Islam, discussing the Bible and defending Jews, judicial officials said Thursday on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Prosecutors acted after a complaint by students and al-Harbi's fellow teachers, officials said. The court in the northern province of al-Qassim heard the case Saturday in a six-hour trial.

Al-Harbi was in prison Thursday, but the Saudi newspaper Al-Madinah reported him as saying he would appeal the verdict.

"There are charges that the judge read which are unknown to me, such as defending Jews and the Bible, ridiculing Islam and witchcraft. It's strange that the judge ruled so quickly and wanted to end the case so fast," al-Harbi was quoted as saying.
In contrast to the brave Indian Christians facing death and persecution, check out the somewhat more cowardly Canadian Catholics. Only one day prior to the opening of the Canadian National Pro-Life Conference, priests back tracked and refused to let the conference use their facilities because the received threats from pro-abortion and homosexual activists. The decision is not based on police inability to offer adequate protection, according to police officials. Organizers of the conference are scrambling to find another location at such short notice.

Despite the pleas of pro-life leaders to reverse the decision in several meetings today, Father Jean-Pierre Aumont, the rector of the Oratory, was standing firm in his decision. He won’t stand firm against abortion if he gets some flack, but he will stand firm against honoring his commitments.

The news comes as a big and unpleasant surprise to the pro-life movement. Even now, conference speakers and hundreds of attendees are en route to Montreal from all over. They have paid for hotel rooms and travel. They have taken off work.

The conference is sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition and Life Canada.
Jim Hughes, National President of Campaign Life Coalition Canada told, "This decision to cancel the contract at this last minute is a great capitulation on the part of the Catholic church in the face of opposition to its pro-life, pro-family teaching."
Britain, for its part, has for some time banned religious music in civil weddings. The Government announced yesterday that it repealed the ban on any mention of religion in civil ceremonies, but continues the ban on hymns and readings from the Bible or other sacred texts. The purpose of these rules is to create a clear distinction between the civil services and church wedding services. The somewhat relaxed rules now allow music "as long as these contain no more than an incidental reference to a god or deity in an essentially non-religious context". All hail the secular society. Brits had 180,000 or so civil ceremonies in 2003 compared with 86,000 religious ceremonies.
Bill Clinton, of all people, made an astute observation about religion. He said "It's interesting to me that we always proclaim – especially certain numbers of us – that we're the most religious big country in the world," said Clinton. "It may be true, but we also seem to be the most reluctant to get to heaven." He went on to discuss the amount of money spent on life saving efforts for people in the last hours of life.

Other folks may not have that much control over the last minutes of life, because they are Christians in a country where that is not popular. That country is India, which claims to be the world’s largest democracy, but where militant Hindus are conducting wide spread persecution of Christian. Hindus have threatened more than 60 Christian converts in northern India with burning to death unless they return to Hinduism by Sunday. The Hindus have already severely beaten the group’s pastor, Feroz Masih. On November 4, they attacked him and accused him of "forcibly converting" the group of believers from Hinduism.
CHRISTIANITY TODAY. The troops are restless in the Church of England. Possibly for the first time, the head guy is under attack. One of the controversial things about the appointment of this Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, was his liberal stance on gay priests. 17 of the 38 primates signed a letter to the Archbishop, urging him to take action against “unrepented sexual immorality” in the Church.

The letter said “We wonder whether your personal dissent from this consensus prevents you from taking the necessary steps to confront those churches that have embraced teaching contrary to the communion the letter is said to have read. We urge you to rethink your personal view and embrace the church’s consensus. And to act on it as it is clear in the witness of scripture.”

While this is going on, the diocese of New Westminster in Canada was busy becoming the first in the Anglican communion to introduce a service of blessing for same-sex couples. The British bishops previously rejected such services in July. Also while this is going on, a Presbyterian congregation in New York has ordained a gay man who is not celibate. They did this despite their denomination's ban on sexually active homosexuals joining the clergy. This guy is serving as pastor of the Palisades Presbyterian Church in Palisades, New York. When asked if he would abide by the church's constitution, the pastor said yes, except for a measure that says ministers must practice fidelity if married and chastity if single.

I didn’t know you got to choose which rules to obey.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Democrats have revived the claim that the President misled them about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that none have been found. Here is a partial list of what has been found:

1.77 metric tons of enriched uranium

1,500 gallons of chemical weapons agents

17 chemical warheads containing cyclosarin (a nerve agent five times more deadly than sarin gas)

Over 1,000 radioactive materials in powdered form meant for dispersal over populated areas

Roadside bombs loaded with mustard and "conventional" sarin gas, assembled in binary chemical projectiles for maximum potency

How much of that would you like floating around in America?

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Starbucks now spends more on employee health insurance than on coffee beans.
David Heddle has several interesting posts on Intelligent Design.
Health Care News reports that counterfeit drug sales worldwide have reached the $39 billion level. Eleven percent of all drugs sold globally are counterfeit according to the article by Peter Pitts. It is based on a report of the Center for Medicines in the Public Interest released September 20.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is poised to become the first woman to be a head of state in Africa. She leads the presidential election in Liberia over a former soccer star. She is a Harvard graduate and an economist, the former finance minister of Liberia, and former emoployee of the United Nations and the World Bank. It is a hard choice, isn’t it, between a soccer player and an economist.
The Times, They Are A’Changin’. The Billy Graham association has announced that Mr. Graham will no longer do crusades. He deserves the rest. He is 87 and in poor health. His wife is 86 and in poor health. No one will begrudge him his retirement, but it is hard to imagine a world without Billy Graham crusades.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Chellebelle asked some time ago if you had to believe in the Trinity to be saved. I think you have to believe in the deity of Christ to be saved.

Romans 10:9says “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

1 John 4:13:15 says “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God.”

1 John 2:23 “No one who denies the Son has the father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.”

Sunday, November 06, 2005

After an absence of 6 weeks for our church to participate in Rick Warren's 40 Days of Community, I got to teach again today. I really missed it, and it was a great joy to be "back in the saddle". So, here are my notes to the study of Joshua 8.


8:1-2 (Back In The Saddle)

After a terrible diversion from the campaign to win Canaan, brought about by the disobedience of Achan, the Israelites have removed the sin from the camp and God has turned from his fierce anger against them. God is now ready to use them to destroy the city of Ai.

The first thing God tells them is a phrase we hear over and over again in the Bible when man is confronted by God’s presence. He said “do not be afraid”. Now, they had good reason to be afraid. They had just experienced the Lord’s displeasure. He allowed them to lose a battle, including the death of some of their people. In addition, they saw the punishment of Achan for his sin. So, they were in need of some reassurance.

Look at the differences from the first attack on Ai. First, God instructed them to attack. Second, God gave the city into their hands. This did not happen in the first attack, which you can read about in chapter 7. It did happen in the attack on Jericho, recorded in chapter 6. Another difference is that Joshua assigned only a small force of 3000 men to attack Ai. In the second attack, the Lord instructed him to take the whole army.

We cannot be presumptuous about God’s will. We need to seek his will both as to his purpose and his plan.

Finally, notice that God gave the Israelites the plunder from the city. He did not give the plunder of Jericho to Israel. All was either destroyed or given to the treasury of the Lord. It was a sort of first fruits offering. Sadly, had Achan trusted God and obeyed, he would have received plunder in the second battle without sinning.

8:3-29 (The Battle)

Joshua passed on the Lord’s instructions to Israel and they conducted the battle in obedience. God gave them victory. They completely destroyed the city and its inhabitants and the Lord commanded. They killed the king and hung his body on a tree as an additional humiliation. They will do this again in chapter 10 when they defeat the coalition of 5 Amorite kings. They observed the law and took his body down at sunset. See Deuteronomy 21:22.

Notice Joshua’s role in this battle. The Lord told him in verse 18 to Hold out a javelin, pointed toward the city. Verse 26 tells us he did not draw back his hand until all the people of Ai had been destroyed. This reminds us of the battle against the Amalekites in Exodus 17:8-16, where Moses stood on top of the hill and raised the staff of the Lord while Joshua led the troops in fighting. So, again, God fulfilled his promise to be with Joshua as he had with Moses.

8:30-35 (Building An Altar)

After these 2 successful conquests, Joshua built an altar to the Lord on Mount Ebal. Mount Ebal is above Shechem, where Abraham built an altar, and where God said he would give the land of Canaan to his offspring. This is in Genesis 12:6-7. Notice in verse 8 that Abraham then went to the area between Bethel and Ai and built another altar and called on the name of the Lord. So, the Israelites worshipped God in the same area where Abraham received the promise they would do so.

It is important to complete that cycle. We worship when we move out on God’s promises. We worship when God fulfills those promises for us.

Verse 30 says Joshua did it as Moses commanded. That command is recorded in Deuteronomy 11:26-29. Joshua also built the altar according to the specifications set forth in the “Book of the Law of Moses”. Exodus 20:24-25 gives those specifications. No tool of man could be used to build the altar to God. He did not want the focus to be on the beauty of the altar, but on Himself and the sacrifice.

So Joshua built the altar with natural stones. He wrote the law on the stones. The people stood around the ark of the covenant, half in front of Mount Ebal and half in front of Mount Gerizim, as they obeyed the command of Moses. Then Joshua read the law, including the blessings and the curses, to the whole assembly, including the men, the women, children and aliens. The Jews teach that Ebal is barren and desolate, composed largely of chalk, and so represented the curses. Gerizim, in contrast, is covered with trees, and represents the blessings of obedience.

What were the blessings and curses? I think they are those contained in Leviticus 26, where Moses tells the Israelites the consequences of obedience and disobedience, and in Deuteronomy 27 and 28, where Moses recounts them before his death.

God will win the victories for us if we will obey and worship.
At a breakfast with reporters, Former President Jimmy Carter yesterday condemned all abortions according to an article by Ralph Z. Holland in The Washington Times. Carter also complained of the Democratic Party’s intolerance of candidates who oppose abortion. Carter is also quoted as saying “I never have felt that any abortion should be committed -- I think each abortion is the result of a series of errors."

The Democratic Part is undeterred. Senate Democrats met about that same time to decide whether to filibuster the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. because he opposes abortion.
This comes as a surprise to many, including myself, as Carter is know to embrace the liberal agenda. When he ran for president, he did say he thought personally that abortion was wrong, but did not favor either a constitutional amendment forbidding it or allowing the states the option to ban it.

Some would say, if it is wrong, why not ban it?
The Little Woman arrived back at DFW about 11 last night. I went to get her and took the dog, er baby, and we were glad to be all back together.

Today, the Oldest took off for Kansas to perform again. The Son-In-Law took off for Arizona for a conference.

The College Daughter and the Baby went to Houston to see Wicked.

This Little Piggy stayed home.