There’s been tons of stuff the awful amnesty bill (did they really think people would like it?!) so I haven’t bothered to write on it. 

The most disgusting thing is that it has gotten this far.  Both parties make me sick on this one.  The Democrats want the voting block and the Republicans want the cheap labor.  Neither seems to be able to think 90 minutes into the future.  It is truly sad when Radical Islam has a greater grasp on the concept of deferred gratification than we do.

Here’s the best summaries I’ve seen:

1 Samuel 9-10


Saul becomes king even though he had no such expectations.  As we will see later, Saul had some serious character flaws.  He would do good for a time, then would get proud and paranoid. 

Though the donkeys were lost – a serious problem given their value – God used that to bring about something good.  As believers we can always trust that God is in control and can make the best of any situation. 

1 Samuel 9-10 (NIV)

Samuel Anoints Saul

9     There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Becorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. 2 He had a son named Saul, an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the others.

3 Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4 So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them.

5 When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.”

6 But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”

7 Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?”

8 The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)

10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was.

11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?”

12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.”

14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place.

15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked upon my people, for their cry has reached me.”

17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”

18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and all your father’s family?”

21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?”

22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and seated them at the head of those who were invited—about thirty in number. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.”

24 So the cook took up the leg with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion, from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’” And Saul dined with Samuel that day.

25 After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. 26 They rose about daybreak and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get ready, and I will send you on your way.” When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us”—and the servant did so—“but you stay here awhile, so that I may give you a message from God.”

10     Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance? 2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’

3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.

5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

Saul Made King

9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When they arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?”

12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place.

14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?”

“Looking for the donkeys,” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.”

15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.”

16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.”

20 When Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel near, the tribe of Benjamin was chosen. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was chosen. Finally Saul son of Kish was chosen. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”

And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the baggage.”

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Samuel explained to the people the regulations of the kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people, each to his own home.

26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some troublemakers said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What passages stood out to you?  What would you apply to your life? 


fiddler.jpgCue the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack . . .

As Tevye discovered in the classic musical, there are traditions worth keeping and those not worth keeping.

Christian denominations have many traditions.  Which ones should be adhered to, and how much weight should be put on them?  I say, when in doubt see how they line up the Bible.

Traditions that don’t contradict scripture may be benign or even instructive.  Or they may be outdated and/or counterproductive and need to be changed or eliminated.

Traditions that contradict scripture should be eliminated.  This is an important point, because some churches use tradition as some sort of trump card or they put it on equal footing with scripture.

The early church had lots of traditions as well.  But many weren’t in line with sound doctrine, so Paul and others wrote letters to correct them.  Just because the church has done something for hundreds of years doesn’t mean it is right. 

1 Samuel 7-8


A consistent theme of the Bible is that God does not permit his followers to worship other gods.  Despite what many in the world believe, there aren’t “many paths to God.”  There is one way: Through Jesus. 

1 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They took it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord.

Samuel Subdues the Philistines at Mizpah

 2 It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the Lord. 3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lordwith all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.

5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel was leaderof Israel at Mizpah.

7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.

Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. 14 The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to her, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the power of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

15 Samuel continued as judge over Israel all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.

Israel Asks for a King

8     When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

Sadly, Samuel’s sons were like Eli’s – they didn’t follow God as their father had.

The next section falls into the category of, “Be careful of what you ask for, because you just might get it.  It is almost comical.  Notice how Samuel gives them the strongest possible warnings against what they are about to do and they just ignore him.

4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”

6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”

10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”

21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

What portions stood out to you, and why?

Penguin Encounter

[rockyou id=70759935&w=500&h=376]

For my oldest daughter’s 16th birthday, we took a belated trip to Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas for a Seal and Penguin Encounter (mostly penguins).  She is a major penguin fan.  We weren’t sure how interactive it would be, but it turned out to exceed our expectations. 

We got to spend plenty of time interacting with the penguins – feeding them, blowing bubbles for them to play with, etc.  Some were friendlier than others.  They were quite the individuals and had lots of personality.  They were more talkative and less smelly than I expected.

We got to help prepare their food, which including shoving vitamins into the gills of the fish.

The Penguin Art was a big hit.  The penguins are placed on a sponge soaked in non-toxic paint, then they hop or waddle over a few canvases.  Then they switch colors and repeat.   It is a good fundraiser for them and everyone has fun watching it. 

We got to do a one-on-one painting session.  Our penguin was named Hendrix, after Jimi Hendrix.  He is a rock-hopper penguin who truly acts like a rock star. 

One penguin named Bumble Bee tried to crawl up in my lap and did manage to crawl up in my daughter’s lap (see pictures).  He likes humans more than other penguins.  Another one named Brooks took a liking to me and kept coming over to stand right by me.

Penguins are very solid.  Petting them felt like I thought it would – smooth, put not like plastic. 

We got behind-the-scenes tours of the seal / sea lion exhibit (though they aren’t interactive like the penguins) and some other areas like shark-feeding and the Rain Forest exhibit as well.  Our tour guide was a terrific young lady who loved her job and did it well.  You may see her on the Discovery Channel one day.

I’m not sure of the exact properties of Heaven, but I’m pretty sure that we’ll get to experience animals even more in-depth than we did in this adventure. 

We can’t wait to go back again!

Smells like pickles! (Looks like pot!)

dill.jpgMy wife just finished teaching her last year of 4th grade (she’s going to be a librarian next year). 

One of the year end activities is for the kids to take the play money they earned (for good behavior and such) and use it to buy stuff from each other.  The kids make crafts or bring in things from home.

One girl brought some dill weed in.  Her written slogan was that it “smells like pickles.”  What made her merchandise a little unusual is that she sold the dried green herb in plastic baggies.  The teachers are still laughing about it. 

1 Samuel 5-6


The Ark in Ashdod and Ekron

The Philistines were about to find out who the real God was.  They thought the ark they captured from the Israelites (containing the Ten Commandments) was a god that their god had defeated.  But the real God’s omnipotence (having all power) was about to be displayed.

5     After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. 5 That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold.

6 The Lord’s hand was heavy upon the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation upon them and afflicted them with tumors. 7 When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god.” 8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”

They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.

9 But after they had moved it, the Lord’s hand was against that city, throwing it into a great panic. He afflicted the people of the city, both young and old, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 So they sent the ark of God to Ekron.

As the ark of God was entering Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “They have brought the ark of the god of Israel around to us to kill us and our people.” 11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy upon it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

This event seems almost comical, but consider how many people want to “box up” God today and make him in their own image?  Here we are, specks of dust on a little planet in a vast solar system and universe, and we think we’re in charge?  Ha. 

The Ark Returned to Israel

6     When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”

3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it away empty, but by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”

4 The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?”

They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5 Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and pay honor to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6 Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?

7 “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. 8 Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, 9 but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us and that it happened to us by chance.”

10 So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. 11 They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.

It is highly unusual for cows to leave their nursing calves.  God may have worked through the false priests of the Philistines to show them who the real God was.

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.

17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock, on which they set the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.

19 But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them, 20 and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”

21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your place.”

The Israelites were forbidden to look into the ark, so they were punished.  That may seem harsh, but they had made an idol of it and deliberately disobeyed God. 

What passages stood out to you?  What would you apply to your life? 

Weekly roundup – with bonus dog pictures!

The Left shows its compassion in Reactions to Fallwell’s Death.  The more I read about this guy, the more I like him. 

Abortion and the Black community – Tragic statistics: 13% of the population, 33% of the abortions, 47% of black pregnancies ending in abortion. 

In Vitro Fertilization carries risks when too many embryos are implanted and one or more have to be “selectively reduced” (read: killed).  People need to think through the possible outcomes of these procedures a little more carefully.

What makes this all the more difficult to read is the fact that all the children were purposely implanted in the women by their choice and with their greatest hopes. All of this heartache, the choosing of who would die, and the death itself could have been avoided if the women had only implanted what they would be willing to carry to term. (The financial cost of failure is a small price to pay in light of these considerations.) But reading the account of the women’s reactions throughout the article, I suspect that in their eagerness to be sure that at least one embryo implanted, they weren’t thinking carefully ahead of time about what “selective reduction” would mean when they had to face it in reality.

Terrific apologetics site – William Lane Craig‘s “Reasonable Faith” – Q&A, debates, Podcasts, etc.

Something lighter: Dog pictures.  The first shows how Italian Greyhounds like it hot.  80 degrees isn’t enough.  He has to lay on the pavement to really soak it all in.


Xannie, our boneless dog – the most hedonistic creature I’ve met.


1 Samuel 3-4

samuel-eli.jpgGreetings!  Parents can relate to being woken up by kids in the middle of the night, but this is no ordinary occurrence.  God spoke audibly to some people in the Bible. 

Some people claim that God “speaks” to them, though we need to be careful with that.  I like to say that if you want to hear from God, read the Bible.  If you want to hear from him out loud, then read the Bible out loud.  He might speak to you audibly, but it is not the norm.

It is notable in this passage is that Samuel listened to God and obeyed

The Lord Calls Samuel

3     The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”

Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

4     And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

The Philistines Capture the Ark

The ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments that God gave to Moses at Mount Sinai (yes, this is the ark referred to in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark).   It was typically left in the Most Holy Place, a sacred part of the Israelite tabernacle.  But they took it into battle as a good luck charm.

Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LordAlmighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5 When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “We’re in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

It is interesting that the Philistines knew of the deliverance from Egypt and rightly feared the Israelites.  But the Israelites had the wrong attitude about God and the ark.

Death of Eli

12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh, his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.

14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”

The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes were set so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”

Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”

17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”

18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man and heavy. He had led Israel forty years.

19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, “Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay any attention.

21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel”—because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (1 Sa 3:1-4:1). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The Israelites should have known better than to think their God could be “captured” by enemies.  They were committing idolatry by worshipping created things rather than the creator. 

What passages stood out to you?  What would you apply to your life? 

The “safe, legal and rare” myth

force-beliefs.jpgIt is a common phrase for politicians and others to say they are personally against abortion but don’t want to impose their morality on others, and that their goal is to make them safe, legal and rare.  (When pressed they will often admit that they think abortion kills an innocent human being.  For this analysis I’ll ignore the absurdity of being personally against killing innocent human beings but wanting it to be legal for others to do so.  Exhibit A: Rudy G.)

They obviously want abortions to be legal, so their words and actions are consistent there.  Most pro-choicers were outraged that Partial Birth Abortion (aka infanticide) was deemed illegal.

What about the safe part?  As with most pro-choice arguments, it assumes what it should be proving: that there isn’t another human life at stake. Abortion is never safe for the unborn.  Another 4,000 innocent human beings will be crushed and dismembered in the United States today.  Without anesthetic.

Do they fight for higher standards in abortion clinics or do they fight against them like the abortionists do?  Check out RealChoice for lots of examples of just how unsafe abortions are.  I don’t find them doing much in the way of safety at all.

Most importantly, what about the rare part?  Consider these things:

  1. Pro-choicers allege that abortion does does not endanger women’s health (that’s a big lie, but I’ll concede it for the purposes of this argument)
  2. The cost of a first-trimester abortion is comparable to the cost of a year’s supply of birth control pills
  3. Abortion allegedly has fewer complications and less medical risks for women than some of the most effective methods of contraception.

So if abortions are supposedly morally neutral and are as safe and cost effective as birth control, why make them rare?

From the Life Training Institute:

“. . . Dr. Jonas claimed that women’s reproductive rights were being threatened because there were less and less physicians willing to perform abortions. If women’s rights can be strengthened by having more physicians performing abortions, then why attempt to make them rare? Is it a problem if a woman simply chooses to forgo contraception and chooses to have an abortion every year? If it is a positive expression of her rights, why not?”

If they really want abortions to be rare, what are they doing about it other than encouraging the spread of disease and giving women a false sense of security by pushing birth control?  I’m not against birth control in a broad sense, just the way it is peddled as a perfect preventative. 

If they really want less women to elect abortion, then these politicians and other pro-choicers should be big fans of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs, aka Pregnancy Resource Centers).  I realize that Planned Parenthood hates CPCs because they reduce abortions, but shouldn’t the “rare” crowd love them? 

CPCs don’t do anything remotely political, so they aren’t trying to take away anyone’s “choice.”  They are merely acknowledging that there is a choice and presenting their case.  They offer a variety of free services to women and girls in need, including: pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling, life skills training, parenting classes, car seats, diapers, formula, clothes, post-abortion trauma classes and more. 

Pro-choice Christians should love CPCs as well.  After all, they just help the women and share the Gospel (if given permission).  But when I ask them if they support CPCs I am typically met with silence.

Planned Parenthood is the same way.  If they were truly pro-woman and pro-choice, they would be quick to refer women to CPCs.  But these people aren’t pro-choice, they are pro-abortion. 

Do pro-choicers really want abortions to be rare?  Do they encourage all girls/women to see ultrasounds before having the abortion?  Do they support waiting periods?  More information for the women?  Parental notification laws? 

Abortionists want abortions to be rare in the same way that McDonalds’s wants to sell less hamburgers.  Politicians who claim to want abortions to be “safe, legal and rare” typically do a lousy job of backing up those words.

I’ll close with this quote by the Pachyderm:

One of the big problems with the “safe, legal, and rare” philosophy is that nothing which is entirely safe, entirely legal, available, and inexpensive is EVER going to be rare. If you want abortion to be rare, you have to make it expensive, unsafe, or illegal.