Friday, July 29, 2005

I'M BACK (OR, HOW I LEARNED TO HATE FLYING AND AMERICA WEST AIRLINES). I crawled into the house about midnight last night after 12 hours of waiting in airports and flying from Montana. However, it was the trip from dallas-Fort Worth to Montana that was the worst flying experience of my life.

We did not make it to bed until almost midnight on last Sunday night. We had a flight at 8:45 a.m. Monday morning on America West for the first leg of the trip to Montana. Around 12:30 a.m., the telephone rang. Fortunately, the Little Woman awoke enough to tell me to answer it. Otherwise, I might have been too groggy.

I picked up the phone and heard "Hi, this is Kevin from America West. Your flight has been delayed, so we put you on American flight such and such. It leaves at 7:30 a.m. Oh, and you need to come to the airport at least 2 hours early so you can go first to America West and get your tickets processed, then go to American Airlines, which is in a different terminal. Thanks and good night." (We figure there was no delay, the flight was 8 hours away! They must have canceled the flight for lack of sales and booked the passengers on other airlines to save money or something.)

I was just awake enough to write down the flight number and time. I told the Little Woman and she said "Well, what about the Baby?" I had been too sleepy to ask. I got up and called American West to check. They said, oh they should have called you. She is booked on Delta. I said no, we need to go together since this is such a long trip. After an hour or so, we finally got her on the American flight with us. Thank you to the nice lady for accomlishing that.

However, we still had to make the trip to two terminals.

I slept about 2 hours, got up, and headed to the airport. We went to America West, had to explain the problem to 2 different people, and finally got our tickets processed. For some reason, they could only generate a boarding pass for the Baby and not for the two of us. We got on the shuttle and traveled at 2 miles per hour around to the Terminal for American Airlines. We went to ticketing and explained the problem to a lady there, who printed our tickets and boarding passes. Even though we got there 2 hours early, we were at boarding time and still not through security.

Then we went to the security line, which had 50-60 people in it. When we got to the front, they said our tickets were flagged for security, probably since we had switched flights at the last minute. Of course, we had only switched flights under duress, but nonetheless, they pulled us out of line, went through our suitcases item by item, wanded us, patted us, and finally let us go. Ironically, they confiscated the nail file from my set, which was an American Airlines gift set.

We finally got on the plane as the last ones on. We could not get our bags in the overhead container because the searchers had messed up our packing and made the bags wider. We got no help from the flight attendants. We finally took stuff out and crammed it in the Little Woman's carry on and everywhere else we could.

When we arrived in Phoenix, we had to deplane, go to yet another terminal, and check in. They could not print a boarding pass for the Baby this time on America West. We waited about 30 minutes while the clerk disappeared to work on it. We finally got it, then had to go back through security.

When we finally arrived in Montana, we were totally exhausted. I wanted to jump out of the plane and kiss the ground I was so glad to get off the plane.

The trip back was fairly uneventful. The Kallispel (I know that spelling is wrong, but I don't want to look it up right now, sorry.) airport is nice, though small compared to DFW, clean and efficient. However, they did go through our bags, even though we checked them, and opened things, as we could tell our bags were rearranged and both had things leak that we knew we had tightened. When the bags came out at DFW, the handle of the Little Woman's suitcase was broken. Interestingly, almost every bag on the flight came out upside down. Everyone was wondering what pervert took pleasure enough in that to go to the trouble.

I don't know that I ever want to fly again.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

BLOG UPDATE. This last week was so busy with work, I struggled to write anything noteworty. On Thursday, while the Little Woman and the Baby were seeing Phantom of the Opera in Houston, I worked until 8:00 trying to get a contract executed.

This week is more restful, but may not be good for blogging. We are going to Montana to visit the Oldest Daughter and see her perform. It should be interesting, as I have never been there. However, there is no Internet service to our condo. The owner said we could only get it at the library or an "internet facility". I think that means a cyber cafe, but I'm not sure about Montana speak. We will be gone until Friday.
Philippians 4

4:2-3 (Paul’s Plea For Unity)

This is Paul’s third plea for unity (2:2 & 3:16). Here he names two women specifically. They were women who labored with him in the gospel. They must have been important to his work, because this is the same way he referred to Priscilla and Aquila (Romans 16:3). They must have been important to the church, or he would have not named them specifically. They are also important enough for Paul to ask someone to help them acquire this like mindedness. In verse 3, the NKJV reads “true companion”, but notes in a footnote that the Greek word “syzygos” might be a proper name. The NASB translates it “true comrade” with no footnote, so those people did not think it could be a proper name. Since the letter is not addressed to one person, but a group, it is hard to see who he means if you use the general term “true companion”. Some think it was a charge to Epaphroditus, who was to deliver the book to the Philippian church.

Regardless, he wants someone to assist these two women in becoming like minded in the Lord’s work. Sometimes we have to help people get over their differences or dislikes or hurts. In Matthew 5:9, Jesus said “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Paul also mentions Clement, then all of his fellow workers whose names are in the book of life. That is what we always come back to: our names are written in the book of life, meaning we have eternal life. Jesus told the 70 he sent out not to rejoice that he had given them authority over all the power of the enemy, but to rejoice that their names are recorded in heaven.” Revelation 20:12-15 tells us those whose names are not found written in the book of life are thrown into the lake of fire. Whose names are written in the book? Those who believe in Jesus and have eternal life.

4:4 (Rejoice Again)

Paul reminded them, again, to rejoice. The life of the church is to be one of unity and rejoicing, not strife and dissension. The rejoicing Christian is less likely to be involved in strife. He is less likely to complain or have disagreements with others. Joy issues from the nature of God. It is a fruit of the Spirit.

4:5 (Be Gentle)

The life of the church must also be marked by the forbearance (NASB) of its members. The NKJV uses the word “gentleness”. We put up with each other, in West Texas talk. We are patient and gracious toward each other even in the face of difficulties or personality quirks.

James 5:7-9 tells us to be patient until the coming of the Lord. Both Paul and James stress living with the Lord’s return in mind.

1 Peter 3:8 tells us to be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted and humble in spirit (NASB).

4:6-7 (Obtain The Peace of God)

Not only is the church to be known for its forbearance and patience, it is to be known for its peace and lack of anxiety. We live in anxious times. There is much stress, especially in our work lives. We worry about money, our children, and all sorts of things. But here, Paul tells us to be anxious for nothing. That is a big and broad statement. He does not say “don’t sweat the small stuff”, but “be anxious for nothing”, or to have no anxiety about anything.

We do not obtain this peace by performing breathing exercises, but by turning over the matters of life to our Heavenly Father. What kind of things can we pray about? He says “in everything” by prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God.

If you turn over your anxiety causing problems to God, the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. God’s peace will guard you against a fearful heart and a fretful mind. His peace is so profound it passes all understanding.

Jesus taught this same principal in Matthew 6:25-34. Read it. Jesus said God knows what you need, so quit worrying about it. Seek his kingdom first and he will make sure you get what you need.

At the heart of these verses it the requirement that you believe God is powerful enough to handle your problems and loving enough to want to. It also requires a submission to his will. If you do not believe in this power and his love, you will not give your problems to him. If you do not submit to his will, you will not be able to accept his deliverance or solution. Then you do not receive the peace of God that surpasses understanding.

1 Peter 5:6 says “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.”

Paul puts this in the specific context of prayer. Prayer is talking with God. It is the special province of believers. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that Jesus, as our great high priest, allows us to draw near with confidence (NASB) (some versions say “boldness”, as the NKJV) to the throne of grace, that we might receive mercy and may find grace to help in our time of need. Paul said to make supplication, to make our requests known to God. So, he specifically encourages us to ask God to take care of our needs.

Paul does not say God will always give us what we ask for. He said God will give us peace. This is where your belief in God’s goodness and power come into play. If he does not give you what you ask, you must know he has done so because it is better for you not to have it. If you trust him, you will have peace regardless. Paul himself experienced this.

We may feel unable to pray, or that God is not hearing us. This may be because of sin in our lives. Read Psalm 66:18 and Isaiah 59:1-2.

4:8-9 (Meditate and Do)

Paul then gives us another spiritual principle of emotional health. He said to meditate on good things. He said to meditate on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good, of good report, virtue, and praiseworthy. Our brains and our emotions are subject to the “garbage in, garbage out” theory. If you continuously contemplate bad things, they will dominate your thoughts and emotions. If you meditate on good things, they will saturate your mind and bring you peace. It is human nature to think about and talk about negative things. We notice what is wrong and complain about it.

But we have to make the effort to concentrate on good things. What gives you the best opportunity for a peaceful night’s sleep: thinking about problems at work, or how blessed you are?

Thankfulness in prayer is part of this. Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Paul’s last principle is to do the things learned from him, another time he tells them to use himself as an example. The guy who can sing hymns while in jail after a beating is qualified to give you advice on how to rejoice in the Christian life.

4:10-13 (Content In Every State)

Paul was thankful for the gift from the Philippians, supplying his physical needs. He was glad that his needs had been met, and knew also that their gift was an offering for the Lord’s work and was pleasing to God.

Paul, though, had learned to be content in all situations. In verse 12, he said he knew how to rejoice when he had a lot and when he had nothing. He could do this because he relied on the strength of Christ, which empowered him to do all things. Again we see that Paul was fully stretched out onto Christ and reliant on Him. He would have what Christ gave him and he would be content with it, no matter what it was.

He was also confident that God would supply all the needs of the Philippians. If God provided for him, He would provide for them.

4:14-19 (Sharing In Distress)

Although Paul could be content in every situation , he was still grateful for the gifts and the love of the Philippians. Notice the loneliness and isolation that he shared here. He said “not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, but you only.” Although he started many churches and brought many people to Christ, he found himself at times with no support from any of them.

After receiving the gifts from the Philippians, though, he was amply supplied. He, in fact, calls them a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. Here he draws on the imagery of the Old Testament sacrifices, whose aromas were said to go up to God and be pleasing to him. Leviticus 1:9 calls the burnt offering “an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” Paul, then, compares a gift to the ministry of the gospel to an Old Testament offering. It is pleasing to the Lord. It is an act of worship. Hebrews 13:16 says “and do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

In addition, Paul affirms to them that God will meet all their needs as they meet Paul’s needs. It is a paradox of Christian living that the Christian does not seek his security in hoarding, but in giving. The problem with acquiring a lot of stuff is that it is human nature to trust our stash rather than trust God. Jesus explained it when he said, in Matthew 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Paul said, in 1 Timothy 6:17 “command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Jesus confronted the rich young ruler on just this point in Matthew 19:16-24. He told him to go and sell his possessions and give them to the poor. Why? Jesus said “you will have treasures in heaven”. He wanted the man to exchange treasures on earth for treasures in heaven, so he could trust God and enter into his kingdom. Unfortunately, the young man walked away from the treasures of heaven to keep his treasures on earth. This is the opposite of the reaction desired by Christ, who compared the kingdom of heaven to a reassure hidden in a field and the man who found it sold everything he had to acquire it. (Matthew 13:44).

Bishop Handley C.G. Moule said, in his Philippian Studies: “The epistle witnesses to Him as to a treasure worth all our seeking, at any cost; infinitely precious to our joyful finding: infinitely deserving of our keeping, of our holding, our ‘apprehending,’ as He in His mercy has laid hold of us, and will keep hold of us, even to the end; ‘unto the day of Jesus Christ.’”

So Jesus tells us plainly “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…” Proverbs 23:4 says “do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” .” Hebrews 13:5 says “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said never will I leave you ; never will I forsake you.” Colossians 3:2 says “set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

When we give, especially when we give sacrificially, we force ourselves to trust God to provide for us, and he does. Jesus said “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

James Montgomery Boice wrote “From my own observation of the various patterns of Christian giving today I believe I would say that one of the best tings that could happen to many believers would be for them to be led to give away, all at one time, a substantial part of their savings. That is, they should give a substantial part of their capital. Why? Because there is something about giving away a sizable percentage of one’s money – and, of course, the amount would vary entirely from one individual to another-that is spiritually invigorating. And there is seldom a case in which a large gift does ot throw the Christian back on the Lord and increase the feeling that He is all wonderful and that He is more than able to care for the one who trusts Him. I have seen this happen in many instances. And I have never known a true Christian to be sorry for even the most sacrificial giving afterward.”

We cannot exhaust God’s resources, either. Here he says he meets our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Just ask yourself “can the finite exhaust the infinite?”

Although Paul speaks here in a financial context, I think it applies to all our needs of all kinds. We need forgiveness, God gives it to those who believe in Jesus. We need fellowship with God and he gives it to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

David said “He satisfies my desires with good things, so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:5).

4:20 (Glory To God)

Paul ends his discussion by giving God glory, for ever and ever. It is a sort of doxology. He is looking forward to the time when God will receive the glory due him.

The Book of Revelation gives us some picture of that. In Revelation 4, the angels around the throne of God never stop saying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. Then the elders around the throne say “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Then, in Revelation 5, every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, sang “to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever.”

Psalm 104:31 says “may the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works.”

4:21-23 (Greetings)

Paul ends this letter with greetings. He greets all the believers in Philippi. His Christian brothers there with him send greetings also. This is Timothy and Epaphroditus and others. The believers in Rome send their greetings and especially those who work in Caesar’s very household. There is a bond of love between these believers in different cities and countries.

Then he ends with his most important theme, grace. God’s grace brings our salvation and preserves us day by day. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit also. Amen.

That's it for Philippians. Now it is on to the Old Testament book of Joshua.

Friday, July 22, 2005

ISLAM TODAY. The “Tottenham Ayatollah, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, said "I would like to see the Islamic flag fly, not only over number 10 Downing Street, but over the whole world."

Bakri is routinely vilified in the U. K. because he praised the September 11 hijackers. You have to wonder about British immigration policy, since this guy was expelled from Saudi Arabia, but allowed to live in London in 1985. He is a Syrian by birth.

Bakri also said he would like Britain to become an Islamic state. He founded the British branch of “Hizb ut-Tahrir”, a political party dedicated to creating an Islamic caliphate centered on the Middle East. He then created “al Muhajiroun”, which is famous for celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

He fears he will be deported before his dream is realized. Brits probably fear he won’t. He both has Syrian and Lebanese citizenship. I vote for Syria.

Meanwhile, police in London have pictures of the men who tried and failed to set off a second wave of explosions there. They will, hopefully, be caught and punished. Antiterrorist officers shot and killed a man they pursued at a subway station while investigation the attack. That's what I call caught and punished. Police also arrested two men.

In Sudan, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Thursday with women who are rape victims from Sudan’s campaign of ethnic violence in the Darfur region, when the government used Muslim militias to drive the Christians and Animists from the region. Rice sought to pressure the government to deal with the problem.

In Iraq, a drive by shooting killed a newlywed and injured her husband, an Iraqi Army captain, right after their wedding. The groom’s brother, a police lieutenant, was also wounded. Across the country, eleven other people were killed.

Also in Iraq, two Algerian diplomats were abducted along with their driver, Thursday. The diplomats had refused Iraqi offers of bodyguards, saying they did not need protection because "Algeria's relationship with the Iraqis is good." I guess he will have to rethink his position on that one.

This incident means five diplomats from Islamic countries have been kidnapped. The Mansour district, where the Algerians were kidnapped, has been the site of other kidnappings. Americans Jack Hensley, and Eugene Armstrong were kidnapped there and killed, as was Briton Kenneth Bigley.

Gunmen have also fired on representatives of Pakistan and Bahrain in west Baghdad, probably in failed kidnap attempts.

Two Sunni Muslims who were working to draft the new governmental charter were gunned down Tuesday. Other gunmen in Baghdad fired on a car carrying Czech police officers who provide security for Czech diplomats.

Gunmen also shot and killed three policemen today while they were directing traffic in eastern Baghdad. Three other police officers were killed and three wounded in two other attacks. You have to admire these policemen for continuing to serve and bring order to this country. Although, clearly, not everyone does.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

It appears London has been attacked again and in the same manner: backpack bombers in the subway. Apparently, no one was killed in this attack.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED TO BABY JANE. There is good news today on the abortion front. Recent abortion data shows that the number of abortions continues to decrease, maintaining a decade-long trend. The rate of abortions is at its lowest level since 1976.

The number is still appallingly high. That is the bad news. In 2002, 1.29 million women in the U.S. aborted their babies. This is in contrast to 1990, when 1.61 million women aborted. It is still a lot of dead babies. Roughly 242 babies per thousand were aborted in 2002, to put it in a different perspective. It was 280 in 1990.

As you would expect, women who did not intend to get pregnant get the most abortions. 47 percent of unintended pregnancies were aborted. Those who are most likely to have an unintended pregnancy are teenagers, unmarried women, Black women, Hispanic women, and low income women. White women get about 40 percent of all U.S. abortions, black women 32 percent and Hispanic women 20 percent. Women of other races account for the other 8 percent. Black and Hispanic women have higher rates of abortion than non-Hispanic whites.

25% of abortions occur among unmarried women who live with a male partner, putting this group at elevated risk of unintended pregnancy and increasing the rate of abortion. 56 percent of women who abort are in their twenties. Teenagers between 15 and 19 have 19 percent of abortions. This percentage has, fortunately, dropped substantially in recent years. To go with that drop, there has been a decline in sexual activity reported by teenage males. Maybe all the abstinence talk is having an effect despite the disdain shown by the media and Planned (Un)Parenthood.

You can also no longer say that poor women do not have equal access to abortion. Low-income women comprise sixty percent of women who had abortions in 2000. They have access to “family planning services", including contraception, counseling and abortion in government health departments, independent clinics or Planned Parenthood. I guess you have noticed by now that “family planning” is an euphemism for preventing pregnancy or terminating it.

The decline in the number of abortions has also caused a decline in profitability. The number of abortion providers declined 11 percent from 1996 to 2000. There are still around 1,800 abortion providers in the country.

That means that there are some towns and counties out there blessed by the absence of an abortion clinic.
AND THE REPUBLICANS SHALL LEAD THEM. It is time to stop whining about the President’s No Child Left Behind Act. Math and reading scores have made solid gains. Even the New York Times admits it. Young black students have significantly narrowed the gap between themselves and white students.

In contrast, the NAACP concluded its 96th annual convention with the same old stuff. Chairman Julian Bond said "Our mission has not changed ...We are a social-justice advocacy organization dedicated to ending racial discrimination. That's what we do." The NAACP has a budget of $40 million. I suggest they use it to further the agenda of the No Child Left Behind Act. This Republican president has accomplished in a few years what the NAACP has not been able to do in decades of work.

Such failure to show results has not changed the game plan, however. Bond says "Racial discrimination is a prime reason why the gaps between black and white chances remain so wide. And we believe that to the degree we are able to reduce discrimination and close these race-caused gaps, we will see the lives of our people improve and their prosperity increase." Television ads will not do it, however. Educating kids to perform in society will. The most important factor in earning potential is education. Go to school and you will earn more than if you do not. Earn more and you will live better. Hey, look at the Huxtables.

One of the big factors in educational success is family support. Another good use for that $40 million is strengthening Black families. The proof is in the pudding. No one has a stronger family ethic than Asian American families. They consistently win prizes in science, math and spelling. They often are valedictorians and salutatorians, win scholarships and go to good colleges. Ultimately they get good jobs and make good money and live well.

Living well is the best revenge.

Listen to the President and get yours.
Iraqi Expat does not support terrorism.
A drug is a substance that when injected into a guinea pig produces a scientific paper.

Monday, July 18, 2005

A PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS. If it was not bad enough that France lost its bid for the Olympics, voted against the EU constitution and have sunk into a national malaise watching Lance Armstrong lead the Tour de France, it now suffers a severe drought and a plague of locusts. I'm not kidding: a plague of locusts.

Where are the Dispensationalists when I need them? Are there no French Dispensationalists? Why isn't Hal Lindsey saying this is the end of the world, at least the French world?

The locusts are devouring plant life all over the land of Chirac, eating everything from crops to window-box flowers.

The government gets some blame here, too. "There is nothing we can do for the 700 or 800 farmers affected," said Patrice Lemoux, an agriculture official. "The locust has no known predator and the only insecticides which might make a difference are banned."

America should offer an aid package to France.

Just for fun.
UPPING THE ANTE. In 1933, the Texas Bankers Association offered a reward for "legally" killing bank robbers. Each member of the association paid a subscription fee. The reward was paid if hte robber was killed with a firearm, during the daytime, in the bank or leaving the bank, within 5 miles of the bank and 1 hour of the robbery. The offer states "the Association will not give one cent for live bank robbers. They are rarely identified, more rarely convicted, and more rarely stay in the penitentiary when sent there...all of which operations are troublesome, burdensome, and costly to our government."
MAYBE I COULD TRAVEL AFTER ALL. There are approximately 9,481 branches of Starbucks in the world.

Starbucks is in 34 countries, not including our land of Purple Mountain Majesty. Unfortunately, some of those are probably in France.

Starbucks opened 1,344 stores worldwide in 2004. Unfortunately, some of these are also probably in France.

Starbucks plans to open approximately 1,500 new stores in 2005. Its long-term plan is to open 25,000 stores worldwide. 15,000 of these will not be in the Land Of The Free.

If I could get a map, I could plot a course.

You can take a quiz online to find out which theolgian you most resemble at

Here are the results of my quiz:

You scored as John Calvin. Much of what is now called Calvinism had more to do with his followers than Calvin himself, and so you may or may not be committed to TULIP, though God's sovereignty is all important.

John Calvin 100%
Anselm 93%
Karl Barth 93%
Martin Luther 60%
Jonathan Edwards 60%
Charles Finney 20%

I do not know anything about Karl Barth, so I do not know if that is good or bad. I also do not know if the quiz is accurate. Some of the questions were a little strange, but I think the strong answers I gave concerning the sovereignty of God landed me firmly in the Calvin column.

Friday, July 15, 2005

You can read a nice devotional on the story of Lazarus here.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

AND NOW, THE GOOD NEWS. On a lighter note ;) an article in this week’s edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association says dieting does not work. I can’t tell you how glad I am to read this.

The study found greater improvements in the health of women who do not diet. I am just sure it applies to men, too.

Here is the money quote: "You can make significant improvements in both metabolic and psychological health without ever stepping on the scales or counting calories. You can relax about food and eat what you want." This was said by the lead researcher, Linda Bacon of the University of California, Davis.

One reason is the old rebound factor. No, I don’t mean finding a new girl after yours dumped you. The study showed that dieters regain almost all their weight in two years, while non-dieters remained stable. (Fat, but stable?) Many studies have shown that dieting virtually always fails in the long-term. This is true from 90 to 95% of the time. This study also showed nearly 200% more bulimia and eating disorders among the dieters compared to the nondieters. The dieters' self esteem and depression significantly worsened. It is the old sense of failure.

So, forgive me, I must stop blogging now.

I’m going out for ice cream.
ISLAM TODAY. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades capped off its day when it fired rockets from Gaza into the village of Nativ Haasara. One killed a young Israeli woman when it hit her home. Rockets also exploded in an army base and a Gaza settlement, slightly wounding several Israelis. Texas shoot skeet, Palestinians fire rockets into neighborhoods and kill housewives. To his credit, Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Youssef ordered police to stop the rocket fire, albeit after the woman was killed.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan had determined to work to spread the "real image and principles of Islam as a religion of moderation and tolerance, which rejects extremism, violence and terrorism." It has its work cut out for it. I guess it can spend its new U.S. dollars. On Sunday Jordan and the United States signed an agreement for the U.S. to donate an additional $100 million in aid.

The Saudis did not fare so well today. The U.S. government said wealthy Saudis are a significant source of funds for Islamic terrorists around the world. This includes the insurgency in Iraq. With friends like these, who needs enemies. We give you aid, you give money to terrorists, they blow us up. It does not sound like a good investment to me.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby said the New York branch of Arab Bank under investigation by the Justice Department on suspicion it funneled money to Hamas and Al-Qaeda. The money is alleged to have come from the Saudi Committee for the Support of the Al-Quds Intifada. Saudis also send individual couriers across the border with cash for the insurgency.

Speaking of Iraq, a suicide bomber exploded a car bomb next to US troops handing out candy and toys. The bomb killed 27 people, including 18 children. It also killed an American soldier and injured 70 people, including a newborn. This was evidently a Muslim on Muslim killing, Sunnis killing Shi’ites, whose neighborhood was attacked. Witnesses said the mangled and bloody bodies of their fellow Muslims’ children lay strewn on the street.Twelve of the dead were 13 or younger and six were between 14 and 17.

So, today’s total appears to be 28 dead including the glorious killing of a house wife, a baby and a bunch of children and more than 70 injured, mostly little kids.

Somehow the words "bravery" and "honor" do not come to mind.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

ISLAM TODAY. Remember the man who killed film maker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in 2004? Yesterday he confessed in court to murder. Mohammed Bouyeri shot van Gogh, slashed his throat and pinned a note to his body with a knife. The note threatened the writer of van Gogh’s movie, which was critical of Islam’s tolerance of violence against women.

During his confession, Bouveri said “I did what I did purely out my beliefs. I want you to know that I acted out of conviction and not that I took his life because he was Dutch or because I was Moroccan and felt insulted. “If I ever get free, I would do it again." He went on to tell the victim’s mother he did not sympathize with her loss.

There are almost 1 million more of these guys living in the Netherlands.

England is still working to recover from the attack on London. British police raided six homes yesterday, searching for explosives and computer files. They appear to have decided this was a suicide bombing. The police also arrested a relative of one of the suspected bombers. The Associated Press reported that at least three of the presumed suicide bombers were British citizens of Pakistani ancestry.

Evidently, this is not the first attempt. Pakistan's interior minister said an attack was prevented before the elections in May and several suspects were arrested in several countries, all with the help of Pakistan.

Some people thing the attack in England is the beginning of new activity. They expect an attack on the U. S. soon. Juval Aviv, a Counterterrorism expert, predicts, based on information from Europe and the Middle East, that a terrorist “event” is imminent in the United States. Juval Aviv used to be a Counterterrorism Intelligence Officer in Israel. He served as a consultant to the U.S. Congress on terrorism. He thinks an attack will happen no later than ninety days from now. He believes they will hit six to eight cities simultaneously and that they will hit rural America in order to cause the maximum psychological impact.

The same group that claimed credit for the bombings in London threatened Italy and Denmark with attacks if they do not withdraw from Iraq. Denmark should send some Vikings to take care of this problem.

Islamic Arabs continue to attack Israel, of course. A Palestinian suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body outside a mall in the West Bank Tuesday. He killed himself and three Israeli women. The 18 year old detonated 22 pounds of explosives outside the HaSharon Mall, which was bombed twice before. (Palestinians particularly hate shoppers.) This bomb was packed with ball bearings and other bits of metal to create a shrapnel effect.

On February 25, a Palestinian blew himself up outside the Stage Club in Tel Aviv and killed five people. Israel closed the West Bank. It also threatened reprisals. It should be noted that Palestinian leaders condemned the bombing.

It's just another day.
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." (Charles Schultz)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

TIME FOR A CHANGE. The London bombings show that the U.K. needs to change its policy of allowing Islamic extremists to live and operate there. Counterterrorism specialists Roger Cressey said London is easily the most important jihadist hub in Western Europe.

These extremists have exported terrorism for some time, conducting operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Spain, and the United States. Jordanian, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, France and America have all protested the U.K.’s policy of allowing and condoning an Islamic Islamist terrorist network and refusing to extradite those who have conducted terrorist attacks in other countries. Husni Mubarak, the president of Egypt accused Britain of “protecting killers.”

One radical Muslim is Hani Sibai, the director of the Al-Maqreze Centre for Historical Studies in London. Sibai recently gave an interview that was aired on Al-Jareera. Sibai said "The term 'civilians' does not exist in Islamic religious law.” “People are either of Dar Al-Harb or not.”
He went on to say “If Al-Qa'ida indeed carried out this act, it is a great victory for it. It rubbed the noses of the world's eight most powerful countries in the mud." He has a special fondness for us. He said "The only riffraff I know are the Americans."

The United States has Homeland Security and the Patriot Act. The French (gosh I hate to admit it) are tough on terrorists and give them less rights than anyone. But the U.K. seems determined to let them flourish right in the middle of town. As Santana said “You got to change, baby.”

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Texas Legislature is struggling to pay for school financing and reduce property taxes. Property taxes have been the "principal" source of school funds for some time. It is not easy to raise money and lower taxes at the same time.

Since you really cannot create something from nothing, unless you are God, you must really just find other things to tax and reduce the property tax by the amount you raise on other things. Then you hope it comes out even. And you hope the other people you tax do not scream as loud as property owners.

So, look for your cigarettes and beer to cost a lot more. They are looking to raise about $900 million. The original plan was to raise about $2 billion, but that required attaching a franchise tax to non-corporate entities. That sent doctors and lawyers screaming.

All this is like playing Twister with the tax codes. The Lege wants badly to continue avoiding a state income tax. So sales taxes will rise and be applied to more occupations.

There are two main needs here. The first is that the courts have held that schools must be consistent, or somewhat consistent, statewide as far as funding goes. Think of it a socialism for counties, taking from some to pay for others.

The second is the persistent idea that the way to fix the problems in education is to throw money at it rather than examine the philosophy behind it and change it to fit our needs. Interestingly, little of the money that is thrown is thrown at the teachers that are responsible for your child's education.
LIFE IS GOOD. Starbucks will open its firs 24 hour store on July 15. They are adding 15 locations in the Metroplex, according to their director of operations. I like that, though I must confess I will normally drive a long way to get back to my usual store for my daily, or, actually, nightly, fix. I only go to others if I cannot get there on time.

I did go to the downtown store after going to see Fantastic 4 Friday, because we wanted to see our old friend, Becky, who used to work at our store and is now a manager at that one. Unfortunately, she was out sick. Sorry, Becky, we tried.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

You probably expected from the beginning that the terrorist attack on London was carried out by Islamic terrorists. The early evidence seems to indicate it is true.

The Secret Organization of Al Qaeda in Europe claims responsibility. The same group claimed credit for the attack on Madrid.

They claim to retaliate for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The terrorists made the claim on a website used by people sympathetic to terrorism. Here is the text.

"Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The heroic mujahedeen carried out a blessed attack in London, and now Britain is burning with fear and terror, from north to south, east to west. We warned the British government repeated. We have carried out our promise and carried out a military attack in Britain after great efforts by the heroic mujahedeen over a long period to ensure its success. We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Analysts say the attack has the characteristics of an Al Qaeda attack. I think that means a cowardly strike at civilians that kills women and children, including Arabs and other Muslims, while the terrorists slink off and hide. "This one is very similar to the attack in Madrid: a soft target, full of people, coordinated attacks, at rush hour. All are indications of Al Qaeda," said Diaa Rashwan, a Cairo-based expert on militants. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw agreed. Bin Laden and al-Zawahri have recently threatened Britain.

Spain withdrew its troops from Iraq after the Madrid bombings, no doubt encouraging the terrorists to try the same attacks elsewhere. Thanks, guys, for your courage and support.

Terrorists are having a bloody week, aren’t they? Al Qaeda in Iraq claims to have killed Egypt's envoy to Iraq, despite the fact that he was a Muslim. They tried to kidnap diplomats from Pakistan and Bahrain also. They attacked civilians with mortars in Mosul, killing six civilians and injuring 24.

Hopefully, the Brits will find their attackers and punish them and their sponsors appropriately.
SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

JULY 7, 2005

Brothers in Suffering.

Our prayers are with you.
There has been a terrorist attack in London. Trains and buses have been hit. Six explosions are reported with at least 40 dead.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

FRANCE LOSES AGAIN. London won the Olympics selection. Congratulations! Paris lost. Congratulations! Paris lost for the 3rd time in 20 years. It sounds like they just don’t want to have the Olympics there boys. I think it is the Capri pants on the men. Paris has not hosted since 1924.

Moscow also lost, but early. They committee just could not see Putin the Olympics in Russia.

This is a great victory for Tony Blair over Jacques Chirac also, as both campaigned vigorously. Blair wore full length pants, though. Blair rubbed it in a little: “Many people do reckon that London is the greatest city in the whole world at the moment”. He also said “This is a momentous day for London.”

French President Jacques Chirac actually suffered his fourth defeat in 15 months, including the spectacular failure of the EU constitution in France. Complaints about the way Chirac handled the Olympic bid have become personal and pointed. He has been called awkward and a ham.

Now he has to face Tony Blair at the G8 conference after insulting Britain yesterday. His insult had to do with food, so it is fitting that he is now eating crow.

The issue is really larger than either the Olympics, G8 or food. It is about who is the leading in Europe. Yves Michaud, a philosophy profess at the University of Rouen said “Chirac and Blair are locked in a contest over the leadership of Europe''. Right now, Mr. Blair has the clear edge, leading the G8 and winning the Olympic bid.

In fact, Chirac’s leadership of France is in doubt. After prominently defying and obstructing the United States in the U.N. and in the Iraq war, Chirac has suffered defeat on several issues and led his country into an economic slump to go with the slump in prestige. Chirac hoped to run for a 3rd term as president, but his approval rating has fallen to 28 percent in June. It fell 12 points since May. That is free fall. (Cue Tom Petty song "Free Falling" here.) That is falling even faster than France’s unemployment rate is rising (10.2 percent).

Pardon me if I sound like I am gloating.

Heh heh.
A KISS IS STILL A KISS. Today is National Kissing Day. At least it is in England. What a great idea! We should adopt it here. Go here for suggestions.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

MORE G8 BLOGGING. While Tony Blair is contemplating the future of Europe, Jacques Chirac is thinking about food and expressing, again, his snobbery and conceit as a Frenchman. He was probably wearing Capri pants, too.

Chirac said: "The only thing [the British] have ever given European farming is mad cow." He followed that by saying "You can't trust people who cook as badly as that. After Finland, it's the country with the worst food."

No wonder France is in trouble.
G8 Blogging. British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a thoughtful and brave man. He proved that by supporting the U.S. in Iraq despite the strong opposition of France, Germany and Russia. He is proving it again. On the first day of that England held the presidency of the European Union, he called for the leaders of the European Union nations to debate the European social model. This is the equivalent of the U.S. President asking the governors of all 50 states to convene and debate the model of federalism and free enterprise.

Blair employed understatement when he said "Obviously it is taking something of a risk to go right to the heart of the issue of the social model, but I think it is sensible to do it. "Everybody knows that that is the debate that is going on in Europe, so let's have it."

The European social model is about quality of life and linkage of countries to provide it. Europeans normally have six-week vacations. You might remember Chirac refusing to return from his vacation while old people were dying right and left in last year’s heat wave.

Europeans only work 35 hours per week. That is fun for the worker, but has led to reduced productivity. That should be an obvious result, but it was evidently not anticipated.

Europeans also like high taxes, social security, “free” healthcare and all the other liberal utopian ideals that Hillary wants to bring to our fair land. The American model, in contrast, favors low taxes, economic growth, less regulation of the economy and a smaller entitlement program.

The question is what happens in the long run under both models.

The European model is manifesting its flaws. Europe has a small workforce that is declining due to welfare and very low birth rates that are the result of population control philosophies. The economies are stagnant or growing slowly compared to America. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy keeps growing, China is exploding, India is forging ahead, and most of Asia has a better economy than most of Europe.

Europe, notably France, criticizes the American model. But Europe has 20 million unemployed people, falling productivity rates and other problems. Education is one of the other problems. Blair points out that India produces more science graduates than all of Europe. Of the top 20 universities in the world, only two are in Europe. Research and development are suffering.

Another problem of Old Europe is that it is old. The ratio of the retired to the workers is currently 24 percent. But it is expected to double to 50 percent by 2050. Europe needs the robot from Lost In Space to walk about saying “Danger, Chirac, danger”. This unbalanced population will lower economic growth rates one percent per year greatly increase the cost of pensions and healthcare.

The rejection of the EU constitution by France and The Netherlands indicates the hard road ahead. No one wants to give up their benefits. But, Europe will benefit itself to death if it does not change.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

NEWS FROM EUROPISTAN. Oriana Fallaci is a writer. She is an opinionated writer, but well known and celebrated in Europe and in the United States. Fallaci wrote a book called “The Force of Reason”. It is about the fact that Europe is becoming an Islamic state. This is not news to anyone who reads. I have noted before in this space that the number one name for baby boys in Belgium last year was Mohamed. France has faced riots by its Muslim population and recently resorted to banning headscarves in public school to maintain its secular status. So, it is not news, but it is worth discussing. Others think so, too: she has sold over one million copies in Europistan.

It may not be news that Europe is in danger of becoming a suburb of Saudi Arabia, but it is new that you cannot talk about it. But, you can’t, at least legally. Fallaci has been indicted in Italy for writing the book. The Italian Penal Code contains an offense for vilifying any religion. She faces up to 2 years in prison.

Fortunately, Fallaci is living in New York. Unfortunately, she is also over 70 years old, has cancer, and can only take in liquids. So there may be no more trips to Italy for her. Of course, she may not want to return to a country that would indict her for writing a book about a major shift in the demographics, religion, and politics of her continent.

I am proud to say that it was not a prosecutor who brought this shameful charge. Rather, a Muslim activist brought it and it was accepted by a judge in the city of Bergamo. Muslims have already published a pamphlet exhorting Muslims to eliminate Fallaci. Apparently, no one has been charged for this crime. It appears to be acceptable to solicit murder, as long as you do not criticize the victim’s religion.

I like the Italians. They supported us in Iraq. They do not let the French vilify them. So, I implore the Italian government to get up, go to Bergamo, kick that judge off the bench, kick the activist out of town, and show you are a democracy with the right of free speech.

When an Italian was captured in Iraq, he refused to beg for his life. He said he would show them how an Italian dies. I liked that. Please copy that attitude. Stand up to the Muslims and tell them you will show them how an Italian lives. Italians live in freedom and they do not let immigrants tell them how to run their country. They do not hide in fear. Stand up now and end this ridiculous farce of political correctness.

Or, I will add Italy to my list of French places I will not visit.

Let us not forget that, some decades ago, another menace stalked Europe. Much of Europe ignored the threat or tried to appease it and ended up in death camps and gas chambers. You have seen the beheadings, shootings, rapes, beatings, abductions and other cruelties in Iraq and Pakistan. Why would you allow it happen again?
RANDOM MUSINGS. Happy Independence Day weekend. On this Sunday, Southern Baptists all over the land will celebrate Memorial Day in church instead, not knowing the difference. In our church, we will sing the songs of the various service branches. I invite you to pay special attention to the words of the Navy anthem, Anchors Aweigh, because it talks about drinking. It will probably be one of the few times you hear a drinking song in an SBC church.
STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES. The Egyptian envoy to Iraq has been abducted. They abductors beat him and accused him of being an American spy. I guess these guys have never been to Egypt.

Saturday, July 02, 2005



3:1 (Rejoice In The Lord)

Paul says “finally”, but he is not quite finished. He says to rejoice in the Lord. He will return to this theme before he is finished. Calvin said Paul was saying to divest yourself of all anxiety and be of good courage.

He points out that sometimes we need to hear things more than once. The same applies to us when we hear the repeat of a sermon or a sermon on the same scripture. Sometimes we need to hear truths repeated to keep them fresh in our minds and hearts. Paul said it is a safeguard for us.

He is now going to set out some of these truths, or doctrines, for the Philippians, and now us, to hear again. He is telling us these things so we can rejoice in the Lord.

3:2 (Beware The Legalists)

Paul continually fought the Judaizers, those who taught that Gentiles must become Jews and observe Jewish laws before they could be Christians. This was the cause of the first council in Jerusalem, as recorded by Luke in Acts 15. The Jews who had been Pharisees said in verse 5 “the Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” The Apostles rejected this contention.

Much of the book of Galatians is a rebuttal to the contentions of the Judaizers. In Galatians 5:2, Paul said “Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.”

Here in Philippians, Paul warns them of the Judaizers, calling them dogs, men who do evil, and mutilators of the flesh (NIV). This is strong language, so we see it is something Paul was very concerned about. He wanted them to see that the only way to salvation was faith in Christ and no one would be through the law.

In Romans 2:28, Paul taught that circumcision was no longer the cutting of flesh, but the remaking and renewal of the heart. He also said the real Jew is the one whose heart has been changed. (I think this is also further evidence that there is only one people of God, not two.) In Ezekiel 36:26, God promised that he would give his people a new heart and put a new spirit in them. In Colossians 2:11, Paul says circumcision is the putting off of the sin nature. By continuing to insist on physical circumcision, the Judaizers were now just mutilators, like pagans who cut themselves to please their gods.

3:3 (Who Are The Circumcised?)

Paul said it is we who are now of the circumcision, which is a way of saying we are God’s people, or Israel.

He describes who these people are:
1. they worship by the Spirit of God;
2. they glory in Christ Jesus; and
3. they put no confidence in the flesh.

Jesus gave a lesson on worship to the Samaritan woman at the well. She was concerned about the location of worship, another outward sign. Jesus, however, said in John 4:23-34 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

We are often concerned about the physical, even in the area of worship. We are concerned about what kind of building we have, what kind of clothes we wear, and what rituals we will observe. God is concerned that we worship him as spirit, in our spirit, through the Holy Spirit.

Further, we only glory in Christ. We do not glory in ourselves. God said only he had glory and he will not share that glory with man.

We put no confidence in the flesh. This is one we must watch, because men and women want to have confidence in their flesh. It is always tempting to build the tower of Babel.

3:4-6 (Paul’s Pedigree)

Paul said, if anyone could have confidence in the flesh, he could. He had the ultimate Jewish pedigree. He had an inherited pedigree in that he was born a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, one of the two tribes that stayed loyal to God. He was circumcised as required by the law. He was a member of the covenant nation of Israel.

Paul also had a performance pedigree. He had become a Pharisee, rigidly obeying the law. He was zealous, so much so that he persecuted the church. He was also faultless in his observance of the law and Jewish regulations. Interestingly, he would change his description of himself from faultless Pharisee to the chief of sinners.

You may feel you have a pedigree, or superiority or status. These are all part of the flesh, in which believers put no confidence. Look what Paul thought of his pedigree.

3:7-11 (All Is Loss Except Christ)

Paul considered all his pedigree, status and fleshly glory as loss for the sake of Christ. Once he came into contact with the glory of the Lord, he let go of the flesh and its supposed glories, for they meant nothing to him. In comparison to the knowledge of Christ, all earthly things were worthless and even hindrances. He counted all human effort as loss.

He is using an accounting metaphor here. In the loss column, he has placed everything he had in the flesh. In the gain column, he placed only his relationship with Jesus.

What did mean something to him was knowing Christ, being found in him and receiving righteousness because of faith in Christ. This was so much true that what Paul wanted most was to know Christ, to share in his sufferings, to be like him in death and to attain the resurrection. He was not interested in material blessings, but in having the deepest possible relationship with Christ, one that included joyful suffering and viewed death as the way to become closer to God. Jesus himself said, in John 17:3, that eternal life is knowing the Father and Jesus, whom he sent.

Moses came to a similar place. He asked God, in Exodus 33:13, to teach him God’s ways so he could know him and continue to find favor with him, or please him. The old hymn said “Nothing in my hands I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling; naked, come to Thee for dress, helpless, look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me Savior, or I die. Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee.

God blesses us with material goods. Yet, we must hold them loosely and be willing to part with them for his sake, or else we will not be able to enter into this type of deep relationship that Paul has. Remember that Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler to give up all his worldly goods to come to Christ. I suspect it was because the RYR trusted his riches and Jesus demanded that he trust only Jesus.

How does all this help us rejoice in the Lord? It is because the one who puts confidence in the flesh does not rejoice in the Lord. When things are going well, the fleshly person rejoices in his own strength, or wisdom or even his “luck”. When things are going bad, he is insecure, doubtful and afraid.

But the one who puts confidence in the Lord rejoices, knowing that God is working in his or her life, and they he is growing in his relationship with God, worshipping and enjoying God.

Friday, July 01, 2005

INTERESTING COMMENT FROM THE N.Y. GRAHAM CRUSADE: "Give as your will prompts you to give."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.