Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas has 33 percent of the Texas health insurance market.
Someone wrote “Crazy Calvinist” on my car window last night in English, Hebrew and Greek. I am honored.

But, how do you say “payback” in Greek?
I guess we aren’t going back to Kansas. A pair of the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in "Wizard of Oz" were stolen last weekend from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minn. The shoes were one of four pairs used in the movie and were insured for $1 Million. It is amazing, isn’t it, how much movies affect some people. I cannot imagine wanting to buy the shoes. I cannot imagine wanting to steal the shoes. Then again, I cannot imagine having a Judy Garland museum.

I probably would not go to the museum to see the shoes, except to humor the Little Woman. Please don’t tell her there is a Judy Garland Museum in Minnesota.
The only reason I would want to go to Minnesota is to hear John Piper preach at his church in Minneapolis.
“Lunatic” stems from the Latin "lunaticus"—moonstruck.
In Bangalore, India, where Dr. Rebecca Naylor spent most of her life as a medical missionary, a mob of 50 Hindus attacked and ransacked an Assembly of God church building and desecrated the Bible.

I don't think we'll hear as much fuss about that as the fuss over the alleged abuse of the Koran.
One well known preacher is developing a reputation for bluntness. It is Billy Graham's son, Franklin. Here is a sample of his expressed opinions:
1. The United Nations will fail because it is a "Godless enterprise."
2. Homosexuality is a sin against God.
3. Abortion is murder.
4. Islam is wicked, violent, and not of the same God.
5. "President Clinton has the charisma, personality and communication skills, but an evangelist has to have the call of God, which President Clinton obviously does not have, and my father understands that."
Michael Green: "This is the age of the sermonette, and sermonettes make Christianettes."
How Come Muslims only get 72? The King of Swaziland, Mswati III, has decided to take a wife. He has decided to take wife number 13. He has converted the traditional Reed Dance to be a sort of try out for the job. More than 50,000 topless virgins showed up to try out.

It’s good to be king.

And we think we have reality shows!

Paris Hilton did not attend.

M3 did his part to fit in. He showed up wearing only a loincloth. It was a leopard skin loincloth, however. (When he is wearing clothes, M3 is known for wearing military uniforms, like all petty tyrants, but his are very colorful, like red jackets and yellow pants with lots of braid and brass.

The job evidently pays well. Each wife of M3 gets her own palace and a BMW. That is not bad for a little sub-Sahara country next to South Africa and Mozambique. Especially since women in Swaziland cannot own property, get a bank loan or sign a contract in their own name.
Women will evidently get some rights in 2006, when the new constitution kicks in.

Swaziland has about a million people in it, including the 50k virgins. Not too many people live that well there. More than 80 percent of the people are engaged in subsistence farming. The country is plagued by deforestation, recurrent drought and soil erosion.

M3 is the only absolute monarch left in Africa. No one can reign him in. He inherited the job from his father, who suspended the country’s constitution and took over absolute power. He has a lavish lifestyle while two thirds of his subjects live in abject poverty. For example, he spent half a million dollars on a limousine. 40 percent of adults live with HIV, the only thing in which Swaziland leads the world. Life expectancy is about 35 years. That can cause abject poverty. Maize is the main food item and it is in short supply. More than one fourth of the population needed emergency food help last year to avoid starvation. You would never guess it, but the government controls the price of maize. You might want to take note of that, Hawaii, as you set artificial limits on the retail price of gasoline. It never works for long.

Before the Reed Dance became a reality show with a one man audience, it was meant to celebrate womanhood and virginity. Virgins have been taking a vow of chastity to prevent Aids and there is a law against sex with virgins. M3 has repealed the ban. I think we know why.
Below are the actual voting records of various Arabic/IslamicStates which are recorded in both the US State Department and United Nations:

Kuwait votes against the United States 67% of the time
Qatar votes against the United States 67% of the time
Morocco votes against the United States 70% of the time
United Arab Emirates votes against the U. S. 70% of the time.
Jordan votes against the United States 71% of the time.
Tunisia votes against the United States 71% of the time.

Saudi Arabia votes against the United States 73% of the time.
Yemen votes against the United States 74% of the time.
Algeria votes against the United States 74% of the time.
Oman votes against the United States 74% of the time.
Sudan votes against the United States 75% of the time.
Pakistan votes against the United States 75% of the time.
Libya votes against the United States 76% of the time.
Egypt votes against the United States 79% of the time.
Lebanon votes against the United States 80% of the time.
India votes against the United States 81% of the time.
Syria votes against the United States 84% of the time.
Mauritania votes against the United States 87% of the time.

U S Foreign Aid to those that hate us:

Egypt, for example, after voting 79% of the time against
the United States, still receives $2 billion annually in US Foreign Aid.

Jordan votes 71% against the United States
and receives $192,814,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.

Pakistan votes 75% against the United States
receives $6,721,000 annually in US Foreign Aid.

India votes 81% against the United States
receives $143,699,000 annually.

At least no one can accuse us of buying votes.
Update: As predicted, killing has begun. Pro-government tribes and anti-government tribes clashed and killed at least 35 people.
It looks like the home of the Tower of Babel will continue to exhibit God’s scattering of the clans of men.

The good news is Iraq's parliament approved a draft constitution. The bad news is Sunni Arabs and radical Shia leaders vowed to defeat it in a referendum on October 15. Iraq needs a constitution before it can get on with the business of self government. To give a little sympathy (don’t faint), Arabs do not have much experience with this sort of thing. There is virtually no democracy in Arab lands. Iraq once had a democracy, but it was short lived.

The problem is really not the vote. The problem is, Arabs tend to voice their disapproval with bombs and guns. Look for a spate of killing by Sunnis. One thing you learn about Islam: Sunnis And Shias are almost as willing to kill each other over disagreements as kill Westerners.

There are two big problems for the Sunnis. First is a clause that prevents formerly high-ranking members of the Ba'ath party from holding public office. Most of the Ba’athists are Sunnis as well as Fascists. The second is the provision creating a semi-autonomous zones in the Shia south. Again a little sympathy is in order. The USA fought a war over allowing a little region in the South to have autonomy in their government, despite there being no constitutional ban on it. The Sunnis are also smart enough to realize that region the would be a natural ally of Shia dominated Iran.

Finally, the Sunnis want the constitution to uphold Iraq's Arab identity. The Kurds do not accept that, of course. There are other nationalities in Iraq also, but they do not have a sufficient voice to matter. This would be the same as our passing a constitutional amendment that America is a white, Christian nation. Except that would cause the world to howl, and an Arab declaration would not.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Here are some humor tidbits a politician sent me.

Some people are like Slinkies . . . not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Have you ever noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a substantial tax cut saves you thirty cents?

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
Here are some informational tidbits for you. The average cost of a Manhattan condo topped the $1-million mark. See, there really is some reason to live in Wichita Falls.

Also in New York City, the 79-year-old monsignor of St. Patrick's Cathedral is accused of sexual improprieties with his 46-year-old married secretary. Rumor has it a great sigh of relief went up on the discover that she was over the age of 18.
We do have our own invasion going on in America. We’re up to 9 million illegals in this country.
In America, we even treat the other side pretty well. For example, at Gitmo, we spend $12.68 per day for food for detainees to get their Muslim diet. We only spent $8.12 per day to feed our soldiers.
Meanwhile, that lady is still protesting outside the President’s ranch. Someone is now catering food to her and her supporters. It seems logical for liberals to provide welfare to this voluntarily homeless person. Liberal political operatives are taking advantage if her grief by showing up and arranging publicity for her. Only the liberal crowd think she is accomplishing anything. Everyone else thinks she is embarrassing herself.

Our local excuse for a columnist in the Startlegram, Bob Ray Sanders, wrote a column saying she was a heroic figure who was starting a genuine antiwar movement. There is an email list of guys like Bob Ray and Molly Ivans. When the liberals get on the wagon, they email the story around to everyone on the list and get them to write columns about it. It is funny, for you can see them all appear at the same time. In reality, Ms. Sheehan is a tragic figure who is being used.

In contrast to the hue and cry of liberals and the media about the ill effects of the Iraqi War on America, the Pew Global Attitudes Survey shows that views of the United States have been improving around the world and with Muslims. (Really with everyone except American liberals.)

For example, the share of people with a favorable view of America went up in Indonesia, the country with the largest Muslim population, by 23 points. It is up in Lebanon by 15 points. It is up in Jordan by 16 points.

It is also up in France, not that we care, Germany, Russia and India.

Support for terrorism is down. Support for old Osama “Where Are You” Bin Laden is down in the Arab and Muslim world except for Jordan. (the home of lots of Palestinians the guys who danced in the street when 9/11 occurred). Almost seventy five percent of Moroccans, fifty percent of Pakistanis, Turks and Indonesians see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries.

Support for democracy is up. Support for suicide bombings is down.

If the MSM would show pictures of Iraqi insurgents killing innocent men, women and children instead of vilifying the war, the support would for terrorism would decline further. They could also show Americans building schools, infastructure and hospitals. They could show tomato farmers in Iraq harvesting higher yields because of improved technology taught by the Open Field Tomato Demonstration initiative of USAID's Agriculture Reconstruction and Development for Iraq program.

That would help our image also. They won’t do that, though, because they do not want us to have a good image. They want to convince you and the world that the war is making things worse for us all. You have to go to the Internet to find good news. But it is there.
Now, if we could just get the President to spout some of the good news, tout the accomplishments. Go on TV like Reagan, directly tell the American people good news. Show pictures of schools, electric plants, roads and businesses. You could change some minds. There is even something for the liberal environmentalists. We restored the marshlands Saddam drained.

Then raise the cry of Winston Churchill: “Victory! Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be.”
I was critical of TV Evangelist Pat Robertson for saying Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated. I was critical because he should have known it would bring criticism on Christianity, but did it anyway.

It did, of course, give the Main Stream Media another bone to gnaw on, and they chewed with relish. (not the green kind you put on hot dogs, but emotional gusto) So, Pat Robertson was unwise, and probably attention starved, but the MSM, it turns out, was hypocritical. (Pause for you to put your hand over your mouth and exclaim “NOOOO”.)

I say that because George Stephanopoulos, the little guy that was one of President Clinton’s advisors, made the same assertion regarding Saddam Hussein back in 1997 and no one in the MSM howled in protest. Of course, Hussein was more of a fascist than a communist like Chavez and the MSM likes Communists much better, but still, shame on you for the double standard.

Stephanopoulos made his claim right there in liberal Newsweek magazine, in front of the New York Times and everybody. It was even headlined: "Why We Should Kill Saddam."

I guess the MSM did get back at Stephanopoulos. They made a movie about a president that was obviously modeled on Clinton and he had an advisor played by Michael J. Fox. I guess it could have worse, he could have been played by the little guy on Fantasy Island.

Who could they get to play Pat Robertson? I hear they are looking for a contortionist. You know, he can put his foot in his mouth.
Given all the trouble our family had flying this summer, notably the College Daughter, I thought a few airline jokes were in order. Here we go.

An airline pilot hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy that required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"

After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the flight attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

A plane was taking off from Kennedy Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom, "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 293, nonstop from New York to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOD!" Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!" A passenger in Coach yelled, "That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

There has been quite a fuss in media circles over Michael Graham. As you know, the media is all about free speech, except when it hurts ratings or offends political correctness. Graham was definitely not politically correct when he linked the religion of Islam with terrorism. Muslims protested in the form of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). ABC took Graham off the air.

We all know that not all Muslims are terrorists or support terrorism. I had a Muslim intern who the greatest guy you could meet. We also know that most of the terrorism we see today is linked to Islam by the terrorists themselves, they are sponsored by Muslim money and are encouraged and exalted by the Islamic clergy and press. The first attack on Britain was claimed by a Muslim organization. That was the context of Mr. Graham’s comments.
Graham went beyond mentioning these unassailable facts by claiming that Islam itself encouraged terrorism. That may or may not be true, but it is no more inflammatory than claiming President Bush is like Adolph Hitler or Republicans are Nazis, all of which has occurred on national networks. Regardless, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, went after him and ABC. ABC caved.

What is CAIR? It is relevant to know what they are and what they stand for, since they are active now in countering any assaults on the reputation of Islam. It is especially relevant if you live in Texas.

The founder of the Texas chapter of CAIR is Ghassan Elashi. He is also chairman of the Holy Land Foundation of Dallas. Elashi was convicted of supporting terrorism. He was convicted of more than 20 counts. He sent money to Hamas, the terrorist group. The money was sent to Mousa Abu Marzook. Elashi is, by the way, the third CAIR leader convicted of terrorism related charges in the last few years. His two brothers were also convicted. The cases were tried in Dallas, our sister city to the east. Elashi was also convicted recently for making illegal technology shipments Libya and Syria, along with four of his brothers. Elashi and his brothers are Muslims and were born in Palestine.

You can see why ABC would care what CAIR thinks.

Of further interest, if you live in Dallas County, is the connection between CAIR and the Islamic Association For Palestine, founded in Richardson. It was founded by Mousa Abu Marzook. CAIR is a sort of spin off from that organization. Marzook is the deputy chief of Hamas' bureau in Syria. The United States deported Marzook.

So, I guess, Dallas now where “the Middle-East peters out”.

Anyway, back to CAIR, also convicted of terror related crimes are Randall Todd "Ismail" Royer and Bassem Khafagi, director of “community relations”. Royer got 30 years after he trained to conduct holy war against America. He also sent others to a terrorist training group in Pakistan. Khafagi was convicted on fraud and terrorism charges.

The chairman of CAIR’s board of directors is Omar Ahmad, who said the Quran should be the authority over America and Islam should dominate.

By the way, it is called Holy War because it is a war to advance Islam.

Like Mr. Graham said.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I spent the last 3 days moving children into and out of college living accommodations. First, I had to rent a U-Haul truck. This is hard when every other parent in Texas is doing the same thing. It is also hard when the Little Woman calls the company to complain because they could not get the truck on time and so the company treats that as a cancellation. My diplomatic skills were severely tested. Of course, they do not realize that, when I am being so polite and conciliatory, I am trying to decide if it would be easier to shoot up the place with the guns I have in the trunk and just take the truck by force.

Fortunately for them, I decided the shooting spree would be only a short term satisfaction and not look good on my resume.

After finally getting the truck, I had to load up a lot of stuff at my mother’s house to take to my house and to take to the College Daughter. Then, I had to go to my house and get some stuff to take to the College Daughter’s apartment, unload some stuff from my mother’s house, and generally get heat exhaustion. It was 100 degrees outside, and hotter in the truck.

Then, I drove to College Station and parked the U-Haul truck at the hotel, took the Little Woman’s SUV to the campus and unloaded it into the Baby’s room.

That reminds me. Now that the Baby and the College Daughter are both in college, I might have to rename them for accuracy. If you think of any names, leave them in the comments. Yes, I already thought of “Poverty Inducer” and “Parent Abandoner”.

After unloading the Baby, we unloaded the truck into the College Daughter’s apartment, somewhat to the horror of her roommate. Can you image seeing 4 people make 10 trips into your house carrying and leaving stuff? Thanks to the boys for helping us, by the way. It is the only reason I am alive today. Then we went to her old house and got more stuff into the truck and took it to the new house and unloaded it again. It was 107 degrees.

Then, someone pointed out to me that there were French words on the truck. Imagine my horror. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses. I hope no one recognized me. It turns out that the truck was from Canada, which I call “Baby France”. I wore a disguise when I turned in the truck. I dressed up like Margaret Thatcher. No one seemed to notice.

So, now I am back and catching up on the news.

Did you know the Army is exceeding both its re-enlistment and first time enlistment goals in the middle of a war.? This is a story you will not read in the paper. I don’t think anyone really reads the paper anymore. If they do, they do not believe what they read.

Also, do you notice no one in the papers has mentioned that Cindy Sheehan’s son joined the Army voluntarily? He was not drafted or kidnapped by white slavers. He joined. He served. He died honorably. Now his mother diminishes the honor of his death by her tacky protest outside the President’s ranch. It is further diminished by the rag tag group of ex-hippies that have joined her. Now Joan Baez is there. She woke up after 30 years and heard someone was protesting the war, so she went there.

I have this image of her sitting on a stump playing and singing “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” with a bunch of other old burn outs from the '60s. Then, the presidential motorcade drives by and coats them all in Texas dust while the President goes and eats BBQ. They keep singing. No one cares.

Think you have it bad at the pump? Well, you do. I had to fill up the U-Haul truck and it cost me more than I used to make in a week. They have a trick tank. It keeps taking gasoline even after the gage registers full. So you put in more than you have to. But, in China’s Guangdong province, they have it really bad. They are guarding the gas stations with troops and refusing to fill up any but the government vehicles. I sent a note to Cindy Sheehan suggesting she go there and protest. And take Joan Baez.

Meanwhile, the European Union has banned further sales of clothing from China. This is not because of the gas shortage, but because of the EU quota system. That has lead to a fear that there will be a shortage of bras in Europe.

Pat Robertson is also showing a lack of restraint, calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela. Maybe we could make a deal to take them both out. Robertson seems to feel it is his calling to embarrass Christians at every possible turn, making outlandish statements in order to get attention. Chavez does that to Venezuelans too, so you would think they would get along famously. But, no, they are in competition for air time, so it has not worked out. It is even worse than Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt. Rumor has it they (Robertson and Chavez, not Anniston and Pitt) will appear together on the Dr. Phil show and he will solve the whole thing in between commercials. Maybe he could help the Chinese with that gas thing also.

I think Dr. Phil has also been to Iraq and met with the constitution commission. It has now drawn a constitution to submit to its assembly. Hopefully, they will not be like the United States Supreme Court and just ignore it.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


3:1 Moving Forward

The verse does not say which morning they moved. I think this chapter picks back up after chapter 1, and chapter 2 is a parenthesis. In chapter 1, Joshua told the people they would cross the river in 3 days (verse 11). The spies were gone 3 days, but I do not think Joshua waited and added 3 more days in verse 2. So, I think they moved out immediately from Shittim to the edge of the Jordan, then prepared to cross. However, some scholars think it did take 6 days. So, the chronology is hard to follow in the chapter here, and does not seem to be as important to the writer as the theology of the story.

3:2-4 Instructions To Follow God

The people were told to follow the ark. The ark was the symbol of God’s presence. It had traveled with them everywhere in their travels through the desert. In the tabernacle, it was where God’s glory resided. In Exodus 25:22, God said “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” It contained the law, the manna, and the rod that budded. Here it is called the ark of the “covenant” to emphasize God’s covenant with Israel.

When they moved it, the took down the shielding curtain and covered the ark with it so no one could see it (Numbers 4:4-6), then covered that with the hides of sea cows, then cover all that with a cloth of solid blue. They did this to preserve its holiness.

In further recognition that the ark was holy, the people were instructed to stay behind it one thousand yards. That is over one half mile. (3000 feet out of 5280 feet). The people would see the ark and know that God lead them. They would also see the priests and Levites with the ark, so they knew that their spiritual leaders believed God was leading them. They lead the people to see God’s leading.

3:5 Consecrate Yourselves

Joshua instructed the people to consecrate (or sanctify per the NKJV) themselves because God would do great things and, thereby manifest Himself to them. They were to be holy and prepared to see God’s hand at work and to obey God. This normally included washing themselves and their clothes and abstaining from sexual relations. See Exodus 19:5-10.

3:6 Moving Out

There seems to be a day passing between verses 5 and 6. Joshua sent the priests with the ark ahead of the people.

3:7-8 God Exalts Joshua

God also spoke to Joshua directly and told him he would exalt him in the eyes of the Israelites so they would know God was with Joshua and he was with Moses. God had promised this to Joshua in chapter 1. It was important that the people follow Joshua as they had Moses, so God intends to demonstrate his presence with Joshua to affirm his leadership and his anointed position. As Moses parted the Red Sea in God’s power, so would Joshua part the Jordan in God’s power.

When God calls you to do something, he empowers you to do it.

The story telling we get in this chapter is different that you would write it today. We get God’s instructions bit by bit rather than all at once. In verse 8 we see that God instructs the priests to not only go first, but to actually go and stand in the river. The writer is slowing down the narrative to emphasize the great work of God here. Chapter 4 will be a reflection on the significance of this event.

3:9-13 Joshua Prophesies

Joshua preaches a short sermon to the Israelites, both reminding them of God’s previous promises and prophesying to them what will happen when the cross the Jordan River. He reminds them God is among them, as they see with the ark, and that he has promised to drive out the people of the land before them.

Joshua also prophesies that the waters will pile up as they did at the Red Sea. In fact the word “heap” is the same as used to describe what happened at the Red Sea.

He also has them choose a man from each tribe, so 12 in all. We are not told until chapter 4 what these men are to do.

In verse 10, Joshua tells them that God is doing this great thing not just so they can cross the river, but so they will know God is among them and will do what he has promised in giving them the land. He gave them a demonstration of his power to increase their faith.

3:14-17 The Crossing

The people obeyed by breaking camp and moving to the river with the priests in the lead. Their faith was tested by the fact that the Jordan was at flood stage, rising high on the banks. Their faith was tested in that God did not roll back the waters until the priests put their feet in the water. But when the priests stepped foot in the water, it piled up and allowed them to cross. The entire nation crossed on dry ground, while the priests stood there in the river bank.

The purpose of this miracle was not just so the Israelites could cross the river, but so that God would reveal his power and greatness and faithfulness, to stimulate worship of him. The focus here is on the miracle as opposed to the crossing.
Last Sunday's Bible Study Notes.



Joshua appointed two spies to search out the land, especially Jericho. This is ironic, since he was one of the 12 spies sent out by Moses. It says he sent them “secretly”, which probably means he did not tell the Israelites he was sending them. This would avoid the problem of an unfavorable report.

The Israelites were camped at Shittim, which means “Acacia Grove” (Used in NKJV) and seems to be the place they camped at in Numbers 25:1, where they sinned with Moabite women and worshipped Baal. One of the Israelite men even brought a Midianite woman into the Israelite camp and into his tent. The Lord struck the people with a plague that did not stop until Phineas, the son of Eleazer, killed the man and woman. 24,000 people died. So God brought the people to this place of great disobedience to launch the great phase of obedience.

The spies managed to get inside the walled City of Jericho. Verse 5 indicates the gate to the city was open during the day, so they may have disguised themselves or covered themselves in order to pass into the city. They went to the house of a prostitute, Rahab, and spent the night there. Her house was literally part of the wall around the city.

Someone found them out, however, and reported their presence to the king. The king is just the king of Jericho, a city-state. The king knew they were spies. The king sent a message to Rahab to give them up. Rahab protected them by denying their presence to the messengers and sending them on a wild goose chase. Rahab then hid them on the roof and covered them with stalks of flax. However, the King shut the gate to the city, so they were trapped there.

2:8-11 Rahab’s confession

When Rahab speaks, she indicates a knowledge of what is going on and how the Lord was acting on the part of Israel. She said she knew: (1) The Lord had given them the land; (2) terror of the Israelites had fallen on the Canaanites at Jericho; (3) the locals were demoralized by the presence of the Israelites.

Some observations are in order. First, Rahab attributes the success of the Israelites to God and knows somehow that He has given Canaan to them. This, coupled with the fact that the king knows they are spying out the land, according to verse 3, means they had knowledge and awareness of the fact that Israel was headed in their direction. We are not told how she got this knowledge. However, Canaan had been a tributary to Egypt, so information was freely exchanged. In addition, the Canaanites were traders, so people came and went from the cities all over the area, bringing news. The discovery of the Tel-El Amarna tablets shows us letters were exchanged between the Egyptian governors in Syria and Palestine and the kings of Assyria and Babylon and others. So, news and ideas were exchanged. The people of Jericho found out that the Israelites were coming and what their history was. God had promised this beforehand. In Deuteronomy 2:25, he said “This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.”

More importantly, Rahab had knowledge that God has already given victory to Israel. This must have come as a revelation from God, for we have no record of her having contact with the Israelites before this. So we see God reaching into a pagan and corrupt land to reveal himself to one who would be faithful.

Second, Rahab uses the personal name of the Lord here (YHWH). She does not say “your god”. She declares him to be the God of all things, repudiating the Canaanite belief in many gods.

Third, the population of Jericho was afraid already, and the Israelites had not yet crossed the Jordan. The Lord promised Joshua in 1:5 that no man would be able to stand before him. It was not because of the fearsomeness of Joshua, but the fear of the Lord.

2:12-14 Rahab’s covenant

Rahab extracted a promise that she and her family would be spared in the invasion, in return for her assistance to the spies. They agreed. You can also tell these spies are believers, as opposed to the 12 Moses sent. They refer to the time when God will give them the land, not if the Lord will give them the land.

2:15-16 The Spies Escape

Rahad lowered the spies over the wall on a rope. Her house was on top the wall, so they went straight down to the outside. She told them where to hide. It reminds you of Paul being lowered over the wall at Damascus.

2:17-21 Rahab’s Passover

In order to mark her house for salvation, Rahab was instructed to bind the scarlet cord, with which she lowered the spies, to her window to identify it for the Israelites when they came to destroy the city. She was to gather all her family in the house. It reminds you of the first Passover, when blood was painted on the doorposts and the angel of death passed over the homes, but destroyed the unmarked homes.

Rahab confessed the Lord, helped the Lord’s people as they executed his will and judgment and was honored for it. Hebrews 11:31, part of the Faith Hall of Fame, says “By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient (or unbelieving). James 2:25 also extols Rahab’s actions. Matthew 1:5 records that she married Salmon, a descendent of Abraham and the tribe of Judah, so that she became the mother of Boaz, who married Ruth. She became the great, great grandmother of King David, putting her in the lineage of Christ, through Joseph.

2:22-24 A Good Report

The spies followed Rahab’s instructions and escaped back to their camp. Unlike the prior spies, they made a good report. They said truly the Lord has delivered all the land into our hands and all the people are afraid of us. God had promised them this on their first trip to Canaan in Exodus 23:27, but the Israelites were unwilling to trust God for deliverance.
You're in good hands with Allstate, if you are homosexual, that is. Allstate Insurance Company:

Gave $10,000 to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a homosexual organization which promotes homosexual marriage;

Supports homosexual websites with advertising dollars;

Gave $5,000 to the Indiana University office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Student Support Services;

Gave $15,000 to the Gay & Lesbian Center in Los Angeles.
Someone has finally decided to challenge the ACLU. It is Nedd Kareiva. His StopThe ACLU.org is the organization. I've often caled them the Anti-Christian Legal Union. Kareiva's website seeks "to mobilize millions of God-fearing, patriotic Americans to stand up to the ACLU agenda and consigning it to the ash heap of history (or export it to Communist regions)."

He has begun a campaign "to recruit pastors, church leaders and congregations to expose them to the ACLU's agenda. Just as the ACLU has 400,000 members, according to a recent article in the National Journal and another in the Washington Times, we are shooting for 1 million Stop the ACLU members."

Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar believes the Messiah is coming soon to judge all mankind. It sounds like he is an Amillenialist. Maybe he could debate Tim LeHaye.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The chief legislative body of the Evangelical Lutheran Church meets this week to decide if the church will ordain homosexuals “in committed relationships”. Appropriately, they are meeting in Orlando, Florida, the home of Disney World, where they will indulge in fantasy rather than study of the word of God.

It has been interesting, if appalling, to see the governing bodies of Episcopalians, Presyterians and Lutherans try to force homosexual clergy on their laity, who largely oppose the idea. Peter had a cogent word for them. "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemantion has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. 2 Peter 2:1-3.
Once again, archeology has verified the Bible. While repairing a sewage pipe in Jerusalem, workers discovered the Pool of Siloam. The pool is a freshwater reservoir that was fed by a channel Hezekiah built to protect the city from the invasion of the Assyrians. It became a gathering place for ancient Jews making pilgrimages to the city. It is also the place where Jesus gave sight to a man who was born blind. In John 9:7, Jesus told the man “Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam”. It is now uncovered and visible due to excavations.

You can see pictures of the excavation here: http://www.bibleplaces.com/poolofsiloam.htm

Many critical scholars have maintained that there was no Pool of Siloam and that John was using it as a literary device. These people always assume that the Bible is not true unless they can prove it true. Since much of what the Bible records is very old, it is difficult. However, more and more discoveries have been made that verify the stories and places in the Bible.

I am not the only one gloating. New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary, said “Now we have found the Pool of Siloam ... exactly where John said it was…A gospel that was thought to be pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history.”

In this case, we also have the Siloam Inscription. A stone was found in 1880 at Silwan, east of Jerusalem, and it now resides in the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Instanbul, Turkey. The text of the inscription describes the work of tunneling to bring the water to the pool.

2 Kings 20:20 says “As for the other events of Hezekiah’s reign, all his achievements and how he made the pool and the tunnel by which he brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?” 2 Chronicles 32:30 says “It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David.” Isaiah condemned the Israelites because “you built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago.” See Isaiah 22:11.

The One Who Planned It Long Ago also planned for us to find it again.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I realized, with a little help from Jill, that I got so wrapped up in telling the story of the flight to Montana, I did not tell what we did there. It is a good thing I have around 75 women in my life reminding me to do things.

When we got to the airport in Montana, it was small, but nice and efficient. We got our bags in record time and went out front. The Oldest Daughter and Son-In-Law arrived to pick us up, then wisked us off to Glacier National Park.

Wow. Glacier National Park is really something. It is huge, for one thing. We drove down the park road for 2 hours and were still well inside the park. We drove up the the Continental Divide. It was actually cold, and felt really wonderful. All around us were mountain peaks, many with snow still capping them.

We saw dozens of waterfalls. The began out of sight up on the mountain and tumbled down in a fierce flow of water. It was beautiful. We saw a glacier and several famous mountains. The Oldest and the S.I.L. had learned a lot about the park and served as tour guides. It was so refreshing after flying all day to ride through the majesty and beauty of the mountains.

Then we stopped at a hiking trail and walked a mile or so downhill to a waterfall. We stood right on it and watched the clear, cold water flow over the rocks into a big pool, then make its way down a fast flowing river.

We then went down to the lake and took a boat tour for an hour or so. They pointed out lots of interesting sites. At one time there were chalet's build around the lake for rich people to stay in. I actually saw a show on tv about this once, so it was interesting to see first hand. All the houses were gone, but there was one big pile of lumber.

We kept looking for wild life, but only saw a loon on the lake. Then we drove back out to a cafe. The Little Woman, the Baby and I all fell asleep in the back of the car. But, we arrived and had a great dinner, topped off with Huckleberry pie and vanilla ice cream.

Huckleberries grow wild there and there are dishes and products everywhere. They say they cannot domesticate them (my wife says this about me also), so you get them when they are ripe. They look like blueberries, but taste like a cross between blue and blackberries.

Sadly, the S.I.L. had to go back the next day. We kept his rent car to run around in. The Little Woman made all the shops.

We say the Oldest perform in Anything Goes and Grease. She had the lead, Sandy, in Grease, and brought the house down. We were very proud. The introduced us, which was also nice.

The travails of traveling were forgotten as we enjoyed the beautiful scenary, the company of our daughter and son in law, the musicals and the good food. Yes, they had a good coffee shop there, although not a Starbucks. It was Nan's. Nan knew the Oldest by that time, so we had a nice visit. In fact, the people in town treat the actors like celebrities so it was fun. If it needed anything else, I found it in a great used book store with an eccentric owner. It took us 3 hours to get out of the store.

Too soon, the time ended and we had to return. The travel back was smoot and we arrived safely back in Cowtown.

Thanks to our great Son-In-Law for sending us on the trip and our daughter for entertaining us.

And Montana, you have a beautiful state. Fort Worth, did you know the sky is blue?

Friday, August 05, 2005

The Associated Press reports that Martha Stewart’s confinement order has been extended 3 weeks. She may not think that is a good thing. She is confined to her house and grounds except for 48 hours per week to work, go to the doctor and attend church. Where can I get an order like that? I think I might like it.

As a side note, the article said “48 hours a week”. It appears idiom has overrun grammar at the Associated Press.
Slate, the online magazine attuned to liberal nuance, claims that Hillary Clinton cannot win a presidential election. It also quotes her former advisor, Harold Ickes, Jr., as agreeing. He said "I'm one of the few in the semi-inner circle who don't think she can win."

This has to hurt. If a conservative magazine denigrates her chances, she can explain it as an attack of the enemy. When someone in her own camp does it, it hurts. Slate, in an article by Jacob Weisberg, says that the problem is not her politics or her husband, but her personality. She is just not likable. She does not “connect” with ordinary people. That, of course, was one of her husband’s best traits. He could talk to any crowd, anywhere, and sense how they felt and thought and communicate with them. He might lie to them, but he would communicate with them. Hillary does not come off as the affable scoundrel, but as the calculating politician.
Here is the money quote from Slate: “Hillary isn't as obnoxious as Gore or as off-putting as Kerry. But she's got the same *** problem, and it can't be fixed.”

She does, however have thong underwear advertisements. Yes, you can buy your own pair of thong underwear inscribed with the words “Hillary For President”.

The most prominent Republican with presidential aspirations is Sen. John McCain. McCain is a worry to conservative Republicans, however. His popularity with the Democrats does not help. Rumors abounded that John Kerry would pick him as his vice presidential candidate. That alone would ruin you for many conservatives. He publicly opposed Majority Leader Bill Frist's plan to employ the “nuclear option” for ending the filibusters against President Bush's judicial nominees. He is also considered anti-business by some, a less than enthusiastic supporter of President Bush, and self important.

David Shribman, Executive Editor of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, compares McCain and Clinton this way: A Republican who very likely can win the general election but likely can't win his own party's nomination. And a Democrat who very likely can win her party's nomination but likely can't win the general election.

McCain was the subject of a made for cable movie about his Vietnam experience, including his being a prisoner of war during the Vietnam era. That is great publicity, but the election is 3 summers away. Also, as John Kerry proved, if there are any skeletons in this military closet, someone will likely find them. His second movie venture will hurt him with Christian Conservatives, who complained that “Wedding Crashers” had too much gratuitous nudity. You have to give him points by responding that he works with boobs every day in politics.

McCain is also a champion of campaign finance reform, but many conservatives think McCain-Feinhold violates the First Amendment in its restrictions. McCain will be a natural target for campaign finance investigations, since he co-authored the legislation. His opponents would love to find and proclaim hypocrisy by finding McCain violated his own law. In fact, one spot of trouble has already emerged. McCain was head of a “think tank” called the Reform Institute. It has been discovered that the Institute accepted large cash contributions from companies who had business before the Senate Commerce Committee. McCain was chairman of the Commerce Committee at the time. McCain resigned from the Reform Institute.

McCain also has embarrassing ties to Charles Keating and was reprimanded by the Senate Ethics Committee back in 1991 for meeting with bank regulators who were conducting the investigation. The government paid out over $3 billion to cover the losses of Keating’s savings and loan. Keating contributed to McCain’s campaign to the tune of $112,000.

McCain does oppose abortion, which will help him with conservatives. He also is at least somewhat opposed to affirmative action. His most attractive feature may be that polls show that he would defeat Clinton by almost 20 points.

The enemy of my enemy is my president?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

SOUTH KOREA HAS GONE TO THE DOGS. South Korean researchers have become the first To successfully cloned a dog. This news will make humane societies and dog pounds around the world groan with dismay. There are more dogs than anyone on earth knows what to do with and we exterminate them by the thousands. No matter, these are scientists. They do not have to be practical. They just have to be first.

They made this puppy from a single cell taken from the ear of a dog. As it turns out, dog cloning is really inefficient. The scientists tortured more than 100 anesthetized dogs with multiple surgeries. They also created more than 1,000 laboratory-grown embryos that died or were killed. Think of it as canine ethnic cleansing. Out of all this carnage and pain, only two cloned puppies were born, and one of them died after three weeks. Can you say creepy?

Despite the fact that we do not need more dogs and that it takes many dogs to produce the clone, scientists forge ahead, both to say they did it and because there might be a market for cloned dogs, taking advantage of grieving people who have lost their pets. They will advertise they can create a new one that looks just like Spot and, after a drink or two, you might believe it.

Scientists have also cloned mice, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits and cats. Dolly the sheep was celebrated at the first cloned mammal in 1996. Scientists also did not tell the public about the hundreds of deformed animals and clumps of unidentifiable flesh they created and killed in the process. If all dogs go to heaven, there will be some funny looking stuff up there. I wonder if the guys that created them will be there, or if they will have to account for their actions in some other way.

The era of the mad scientist is upon us. These guys might even be more dangerous than Congress.
CONSERVATIVES GONE MAD (OR LIBERAL). What has happened to our supposedly conservative congress? They approved nearly $300 billion in new spending and tax breaks, then left town for a recess. This extravaganza includes money for graffiti eradication in the Bronx (doesn’t that violate some kind of historic preservation thing?), $277 million for Illinois road projects (this, coincidentally is the home state of Speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert), and $200,000 for deer-avoidance in New York. How does the state that elects one of the president's biggest critics get so much pork? Expect a big defense spending bill in the fall, when recess is over.

Word has it that the same congressmen will vote for more tax cuts in the fall. This is not the way you do it at home, is it? Do you cut your income and increase your spending when you want to get ahead? Mr. Rogers says "can you spell deficit?"

A small number of congressmen realize this, and realize also that this is not the conservative way. Jeff Flake is a Republican representative from Arizona. He said "If you look at fiscal conservatism these days, it's in a sorry state." Flake voted against the $286.5 billion transportation bill, but only 7 other representatives did.

Congress exceeded its budget assumptions four times this year already, and they are not done yet. It has increased spending (through 2010) by roughly $2.2 billion above Congress's limits. It has added $115 billion to the budget deficit through the end of decade. It added $33 billion to the deficit just for 2006 alone. The projected deficit for this fiscal year is now $333 billion. That is $33,000,000,000.00. These are Republicans?

The highway bill is the most expensive public works legislation in U.S. history. It is 1,752 pages long. That is longer than a James Michener novel. It is also more expensive. It has 6,376 projects. This includes a $120 million bridge, again in Illinois. If you do not live in Illinois, you might think, why should I have to pay for their bridge? The answer is, the Speaker of the House is delivering it for his home state. Oink, Dennis, Oink.

All may not be well on the horizon for Republicans. If they think they are buying votes or favor in a big way, they may want to think again. Newt Gingrich warns Republicans the party's narrow victory in Tuesday's special election in Ohio shows that people are not happy with Republicans for several reasons. He says it should be a wake up call. Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, admitted the outcome was not what they wanted or expected.

How can the next Republican candidate campaign on Republican principles? The Congress is proving that the only difference in the parties is who gets the pork. Either way, the public should squeal like the stuck pig it is.

Monday, August 01, 2005

THE REAL SECRET TO CHURCH GROWTH. Phillip Johnson writes “Virtually all the people on Time magazine's list of 'The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals' share at least one glaringly significant trait. For the most part, these are the fadmakers.” He explains: “Not one of those movements or programs even existed 35 years ago. Most of them would not have been dreamed of by evangelicals merely a generation ago. And, frankly, most of them will not last another generation. Some will last a few short months (like the Jabez phenomenon did); others may seem to dominate for several years but then die lingering deaths (like Bill Gothard's movement is doing). But they will all eventually fade and fall from significance. And some poor wholesale distributor will be left with warehouses full of Jabez junk, Weigh-Down Workshop paraphernalia, "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets, Purpose-Driven® merchandise, and stacks and stacks of "emerging church" resources.”

We can only hope so. The desire of pastors and churches to embrace these fads is a little amusing. One of the things you hear from the pulpit on a regular basis is you cannot follow the crowd, you must follow Christ. Then we jump onto the latest church fad. The 1990s, for example, were full of pastors trying to convert their traditional churches into contemporary worship centers. (I still laugh when I see guys in blue jeans playing electric guitars, standing next to Greek columns. Or having open mike night, where people swear and tell ugly stories and we let them because at least they are coming to church and we might reach them.)

Some still are. That is always a good sign that a movement is really dead. By the time Baptists get there, you know everyone else has figured out it doesn’t work and has moved on. It is kind of like high school. When the nerds discover something, the cool people leave.

The pathos enters in, and the amusement fades, when you realize the motivation for chasing these fads. Churches do it to emulate success. Success is always couched in terms of growth in membership. If Pastor Billy Bob doubled his membership having goats in the service, someone will pay him to write a book about it. Pastors and staff members will read those books and decide they need goats in their service, too. Obviously they do, for their membership has not doubled like Billy Bob’s.

They may not realize that the goats actually had no effect, or even a harmful effect, and the real reason for the growth is that the city moved in the direction of his church and he got the new members from the population growth pattern. In reality, one of the tried and true methods of successful church growth is to leave the inner city and move out in front of the suburban sprawl. Upwardly mobile, suburban families, especially with children, make great church members and fatten the rolls (with or without goats).

I honestly think the day will come, and it won’t be long, that churches will say that old contemporary worship thing just doesn’t reach this new generation. We need to go to a simple worship style. Some people will say, but we have done it this way for years. Then the leaders will say hey, it is not about you, it is about reaching more people. You have to give up clinging to these pop music sounding songs and waving hands and embrace prayer, the Lord’s Supper and hymn singing.

Some will not do it, of course. They will complain, saying, if our kids learn only hymns, they will not learn the words to these really great songs we know. Some churches will be cautious. They will have an early service for people who want to worship in the new style, while having the pop music people maintain the 11 o’clock service.

Some will embrace blended services where they will sneak in a few hymns and more regular observance of the Lord’s Supper. But, the pop music crowd will count the songs and complain that there were too many hymns. They will complain that the juice budget has gotten out of hand from having the Lord’s Supper too many times. And we only get to sing the hymns once, instead of singing the pop songs 15 times over.

Protestants chided Catholics for years for changing church doctrine on the whim of the church. Protestants now do it, too, but without following a central church dogma. Instead, they follow the best seller at the local religious book store.

Anthony of Egypt said "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us'."

I know, I know: you are saying to yourself "but you really are mad".

And you might be right.
HOW I LEARNED TO HATE FLYING AND AIRLINES EVEN MORE THAN I DID IN THE LAST POST. To continue the family misadventures in air travel, the College Daughter is in the process of a multi-day torture session at the hands of the airlines. She flew from Madrid to London and had to change planes. The change included a change of airports. She had three hours to make it. She could not make it because of a combination of slow baggage return and London traffic. The airline would do absolutely nothing to help. She actually got there before the plane left, but inside the “30 minute window”. They could have taken her and sent her luggage later, but they would not. And, they would not help her with another flight.

She called us and we began to try to fix the problem. Praise God for the Internet. We booked her a hotel room close to the airport. Then, we called American Airlines. They were singularly disinterested in our problem. Finally, the Little Woman said something to the effect of we have a real problem here and we really need your help to solve it and help our daughter. The response basically was that it was not their problem and they did not care. Note to AA: when you finally do file for bankruptcy, be sure to list lack of customer service as a reason.

We got on the Internet again and booked a flight, costing us approximately $1,000, just to insure our daughter would indeed get home. Plus, we paid for a couple of nights in a hotel for her to stay in until the flight.

The College Daughter has now called to say she missed the connecting flight in Atlanta because she is standing in the customs line and cannot get out. She has been there for over an hour.

In contrast to the cold hearted American Airlines, Delta was nice enough to book her on a later flight. It does not leave for a couple of hours, however. We lamented that, then considered it might take her that long to clear customs.

The update is now that the airline has lost her luggage. So, she will get here around 9 pm tonight, but without her bag. She is, by the way, traveling with her college roommate, who is, therefore, sharing all this same misery. Added to her troubles, she had a ticket to fly on to her hometown from here, which she will now miss.

Do not look for our family to spend much on airfare after this is over. I have never seen such a disaster.