Pocket Full of Mumbles

What's done is done, and this puppy's done. Visit me over at Pearls & Lodestones

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Mr. Burroughs Gets it Right" ..:Chapter One:..



After years of drudgery in a bucolic, middle of the road existence, Frank Burroughs decided one morning to kill himself. He thought long and hard on the method by which he would see the deed done, but none seemed especially noteworthy. Guns were too messy, and so done! Slit his wrists? Why, most people survived that, so why bother? Besides, it too was messy. He thought of rope and wondered if he might not hang himself, but the thought of struggling and kicking about reminded him of flies snared on flypaper. Pills? Too easy! And then he thought of drinking himself to death, but sadly, realized that wouldn’t work either. His low tolerance for alcohol would put him fast asleep before he could do much damage, and the thought of dying in a car wreck? God, how ghastly! And given the
chance he might kill someone else in the process killed the idea all together. No. If he was going to kill himself, the method must be singularly unique.

This struggle went on for quite some time until one evening an ad came over the television that caught his attention.

"Love life got you down? Does your better half wish you understood them better? How about your job? Do you feel out of the loop? Do you need an edge? Then the Psiron M just might be the answer!"

Hey, now. What’s this? He thought, and leaned in to the television.

"...That’s right folks, for a mere pittance, you can be an EMPATH! Think how your relationships will benefit by actually FEELING the emotions of those close to you. Know what your lover REALLY thinks of you, and knowing, at long last, what pushes HER buttons!

"With your newly installed M chip, you will have the edge you need to succeed in business. Anticipate your clients needs..."


That’s it! He thought. That is how I shall do it! And forthwith recorded the number into his palm crystal.

The following Wednesday he arrived at Psiron Labs at his appointed time of eight-thirty, sharp. There were quite a few drab, long-faced souls in the waiting room also awaiting their interview with doctors Hedly and Havsram. "I can’t believe I’m sitting here with all these losers," Frank muttered.

When he had made his appointment he’d been informed that not everyone who applied would receive the M chip. Certain behavioral types were to be excluded for safety’s sake. After all, it wouldn’t do to have obsessive-compulsive’s collapsing in seizures in public, or sociopath’s running amok in the general population. No, only those who were deemed moderately to excessively normal would be allowed to continue on with the treatment.

And the price! Half a year’s salary! It was a good thing he was a frugal man! A vegetarian by force of common sense-- all those ghastly diseases associated with meat, not to mention the price! He had banked most of what he earned over the years hoping to buy into a retirement home when he reached retirement, but that was decades off, and moot, now that he had decided to kill himself.

When finally he was ushered into the examination room he had just about lost his resolve, but the room to which he was led intrigued him. It was a stark white room, empty of everything save the chair on which he sat. No pastoral images hung on the walls. No diplomas or credos.

He sat for a long while looking about, but realizing there really wasn’t anything to look at, he closed his eyes and waited; patience personified. After all, the chip was worth the wait. With it he would put an end to his boring existence. The trick would be to find that special someone who would unwittingly help him. It would have to be someone so utterly miserable -- yet unwilling to end their own life -- in desperate need of a friendly ear. Oh, and yes, his would be the friendliest.

At long last, a thin, nondescript man entered the white room. He was of an average height and his features quite unremarkable.

"Good afternoon, Mister Burroughs."

"Uh..." Frank began with confusion written across his brow, "it’s morning still, isn’t it?"

"Yes. Quite." Said the unremarkable man, who proceeded to introduce himself.

"I am Dr. Rastabula, an associate of doctors Hedly and Havsram. I am going to ask you ten questions to which you will answer yes or no. I will then ask you to look at one ink blot and describe to me what it is you see within the image, and what emotions it brings to mind. Do you understand? Yes? Good! Then let us begin."

How odd! Burroughs thought.

"Have you ever been treated for addictive behaviors?"

"No." To which Rastabula scratched notes upon his clipboard.

"During which month do you find you are happiest?" He asked.

"June."

"Not August?"

"Is that one of the questions?"

"No."

"Oh. No, June it is."

"Hmm. Very well. Do you prefer giving presents to receiving them?"

"Yes."

"What?”

"Do I prefer giving presents to receiving them?"

"Yes. That’s the question."

"Then yes, I do."

"But which do you prefer, Mr. Burroughs."

"See here, Doctor. You said to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’."

"Right, right." Dr. Rastabula harrumphed. "So I did."

"Very well then," he continued. "If you could afford to keep a pet, and were able to acquire permission from the ministry of wildlife, would you choose a dog, cat, or parrot?"

"No. Yes. No."

"I see." Dr. Rastabula muttered, and again scribbled on his clipboard.

"What are you writing, Doctor?"

"That you are being a most difficult subject, Mr. Burroughs." Rastabula sighed.

"Most difficult indeed."

"See here, doctor!" Burroughs objected. "It was you as said I should answer your beastly questions with a simple yes or no!"

"Mr. Burroughs," sighed Rastabula yet again, pushing his plain glasses back up the bridge of his plain nose. "Please exercise sense enough to know when a simple yes or no will not do. Shall we continue? Are you ready?"

"Quite." Replied the fuming Burroughs.

"Now. How many prescriptions are you currently taking?"

"None."

"Are you sure?"

"Is that one of the questions?"

"No. Very well. Next question. To your left is a glass. Please tell me whether it is half full or half empty."

Burroughs looked to his left and saw the small white block of a table upon which sat a glass of water. "Oh, my," he said. "That wasn’t there before," then cocked his head and thought a moment.

"Actually," he said at last. "It’s both."

"What?"

"I said it’s both, Doctor."

"It can’t be both." Growled the doctor through clenched teeth. "It must be one or the other."

"No, it mustn’t." Smiled Burroughs.

"For the purpose of this examination you must choose one or the other."

"Then I choose ‘fully half-empty’."

"Very well!" Snarled Rastabula. And his pen moved furiously across his clipboard.

"Have you ever contemplated Murder or, better yet, Suicide?" Rastabula’s eyes distended themselves from their sockets and twitched.

"Murder? No. Suicide?" and he paused and looked down to study his nails. "No."

"You’re Lying!" Shouted the doctor, spittle flying from his mouth.

"I am not!" Returned Burroughs, straightening in his chair, with an air of indignation."

"Yes you are!" Rastabula shouted again, half rising from his chair. "You answered ‘no’ immediately after saying the word ‘murder’, but paused and looked down and to the left before answering to ‘suicide’! You sir, are a liar!"

"I don’t know what you are babbling on about, but I’ve had just about enough of you, Rastabula!" Burroughs shouted back, half rising from his seat as well.

"Of course you don’t! You’re an…!"

"Doctor Rastubula?" came a woman’s voice from nowhere. Both stopped and stood straight up.

"Yes?" The doctor asked the voice.

"Doctor Hedly says you are taking far too long. Please hurry."

Doctor Rastabula smoothed his ordinary smock, gripped his clipboard with whitened knuckles, and smiled to the disembodied voice.

"Yes, of course." He said. He took his seat and gestured for Mr. Burroughs to do the same.

Once seated, the doctor said, "Just three more questions Mr. Burroughs, and then the Ink Blot. Ready? How often do you think about death?"

Mr. Burroughs looked down at his palms.

"There you go again." The doctor sighed.

"What?"

"Never mind. Just answer the question. How often do you think about death?"

"At least once a day."

"Are you sure?"

"Is that…?"

"No. Continuing on, Have you or anyone in your immediate family ever been treated, by a physician, for any psychological disorder?"

"No."

"I find that rather hard to believe." Rastabula muttered under his breath, and scribbled lengthily upon the clipboard.

"What?"

"Last question, Mr. Burroughs." Smiled Rastabula. "Why do you wish to be an empath?"

Mr. Burroughs thought a moment, preparing his prepared speech.

"Well. You see. It’s like this. In my line of work it pays to be ahead of the game. And I feel as though if I had an edge and knew ahead of time what the competition was up to I could..."

"Mr. Burroughs," Rastabula interrupted. "It is not a telepathy chip. It’s an empath chip. Empath. Do you understand the difference?"

"Of course I do!" said Burroughs a bit insulted. "It’s emotions. But didn’t you know emotions often say more than words? It is the Primal Language of the soul, and it speaks volumes more than mere words."

"Yes. Well. I see you do. Very well then, lets have a look at the Ink Blot, shall we?"

"Now, Mr. Burroughs," he said. "The object here is to allow your subconscious to do all the work. First impressions are very important here. So, when I turn this placard over, please describe what it is you see." Rastabula pulled a stiff placard from the back of his clipboard and held it before him. "Ready?" he asked.
He turned it over and revealed the black smear. It was an odd yet strangely ordinary blot of ink, its left half the mirror of its right. Mr. Burroughs leaned in and rested his chin in his hands.

"Hmmm." He said.

"First impressions, Mr. Burroughs," quipped the doctor. "What do you see?"

Burroughs cocked his head and sighed. "Why, aside from the obvious," he said at last, "it's my mother’s tea set. All tarnished, of course because of all the black in there, but it’s definitely her tea set."

"Your Mother’s Tea set!" Shouted the doctor in disbelief.

"Yes." Burroughs sighed wistfully. "She’d have a fit if she could see her tea set in such a state, God bless her soul, but she makes the best pot o..."

"That’s quite enough from you, you pathetic little man!" Rastabula’s eyes began to bulge from their sockets again. "How, on God’s green earth you managed to make it to..." and he stopped to consult his clipboard... "Forty four." He sneered. "I can’t..." Then he paused and mentally drew back in his eyes. Burroughs was steamed, but sat quietly. It is almost over, he kept reminding himself.

"Mr. Burroughs," the doctor said at last in a soft voice. "What is wrong with you?"

"Wrong?"

"Yes, wrong." He said through clenched teetch while removing his glasses and pinching the bridge of his ordinary nose.

"Most people see cars, bunnies, spilt milk, female genitalia or reproductive systems!!! BUT THEY NEVER SEE THEIR MOTHER’S TEA SETS!!!"



..:Chapter Two:..

Frank Burroughs wasn’t always so fastidious; of course it was his mothers influence. Frank's father had never been around much after forty-three, seeing as how he never made it back from the implosion fields of northern Lebanon. "What a beastly business, this war and such!" Began the litany of Frank’s mother, pre-ambling the rambling that, without fail, soon ensued the moment the last syllable was uttered. And there was Frank, nodding in all the right places, and sighing his silent agreement, daintily sipping his tea with any number of Ima Burroughs’ friends, each one as blue haired as the next. So without the influence of a father figure-- Uncle Mortimer didn’t count, being a barfly and all --he was left to be raised by women who knew nothing of raising men.

Eileen-Nana’s only child was Frank’s own mother, and a good woman by all accounts, but she too had no idea what to do with young Frank after Mr. Burroughs failed to return home alive, or in one piece. But it was the general consensus that Uncle Mortimer should be left out all together

"Beastly business."

The implant had taken only a matter of minutes to install. The software-- Frank’s brain --needed time to adjust and so it was a week before the doctors, Messer’s Havsram and Hedley themselves, dared to fire it up.

The procedure was simple enough. The tiny screw at the back of Frank’s head was adjusted using a common screwdriver. The level to which it was set was determined by a series of street beggars brought in to accost Frank for money. The emotional exchange between Frank and the assorted collection of drunks, winos and all-around ne’er do wells, was to be collected through a jack beneath the screw, installed for just that purpose. Frank’s disgust as well as his attackers penniless mewlings, would then be recorded and used to calibrate the Psiron M.

The worst part of the whole affair was the soldering.

"It’s got to be locked into position, Mr. Burroughs." Explained Dr. Havsram.

"By soldering?!" exclaimed Frank rather worriedly.

"Come now, Mr. Burroughs." Soothed Dr. Hedley. "We’ve done this at least a dozen times, and not once has anyone complained, or sued."

"And that’s supposed to make me feel better?"

In the end they soldered it down good, with only one slip.

"You said it wouldn’t hurt!" Frank bellowed.

"No, Mr. Burroughs, said Dr. Havsram, "We said we’ve performed the procedure a dozen times."

"Thirteen, actually." Added Dr. Hedley with a quick smile.

A nurse appeared and handed Dr. Havsram a clipboard. "Ahh," he said with pleasure. "And now for the rules..."

..:[unfinished]:..



Hope you found my unfinished tale humorous. Levity on this final night of 2006 is what's in order; there's been quite enough of the other stuff, and it's time to put THAT geezer to bed!

Happy New Year everyone!


Here's more

Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's Eve, Israeli style

Think Jews don't celebrate Sylvester? Think again

by Rabbi Ben Yovits
December 28, 2006


1 Jews do not celebrate New Year's Eve on December 31th. No siree, we have our own calendar, thank you. So what do we do in Israel? We have "Sylvester parties." The main theme is getting drunk all night, while criticizing other people's clothing: Did you see the leather belt on her? What does she think she is, 12? And not too skinny, mind you…

2 Every year there's a silent competition concerning "The Best Sylvester Party." Meaning, the one held by the biggest, glitziest zillionaire around. Everyone tries to snag an invitation, but wind up going to their cousin's party in Ramla (Which is the rough equivalent of Boise, Idaho).

3 Jews do not wish each other a Happy New Year. Instead, they mourn the loss of the last one: Wasn't it a good year? Wasn't it filled with joyous memories? Why did it pass so quickly? Maybe we're growing old… Pass the wine, I'm depressed as hell.

4 After the alcohol kicks in, it's time for making optimistic predictions about the coming year. For example: I'm telling you Shmuel, we'll be lucky to stand here next year. If the Iranians won't bomb us, the Syrians will. It's the end, I tell you, the end. Any wine left?

5 At that point everyone agrees it's best to leave Israel and move to Canada or Australia. No one does.

6 The next day at work, everyone pretends to have forgotten last night's party. Sylvester? Pah, we don't celebrate that in our house. My booby and I went straight to bed. Out like a light by 10 o'clock. It's a gentile custom, anyway. Why am I holding my head? My temples seem to be exploding…

7 And they make a solemn oath never to celebrate this "gentile custom" again. Never ever. The decision holds for 364 days.

Happy New Year all, don't drink and drive!


----

Sylvester? Stallone?


Here's more

Witness to Execution

Speechless Hussein trembled, struggled--
The details of Saddam's non-heroic final hour

By Gordon Thomas
December 30, 2006
12:48 p.m. Eastern
© 2006 WorldNetDaily.com


At two minutes past 3 a.m. (GMT) today, Saddam Hussein's boast that he would die a heroic martyr ended when he saw the gallows.

He began to tremble and his eyes filled with what one observer called "his terror at impending death. For the first time he was feeling what so many others had done facing execution from his actions."

One hour before – 2 a.m. on a cold Baghdad morning – his cell door had opened. Standing there was the Iraqi commander of the execution squad. He ordered the two American guards, who had stood their last death watch, to withdraw. In their place stepped two muscular Iraqi soldiers.

The commander told Saddam he would be hanged in the hour. There then followed the ritual formalities for execution.

Saddam ate a meal of boiled chicken and rice he had ordered at midnight. With the food he drank several cups of hot water laced with honey. It was a drink which dated back to his childhood.

After the meal he was invited to use the cell toilet – to avoid the public embarrassment of wetting himself in the execution chamber.

Saddam refused the offer.

At 2:30 a.m. he performed his final religious ablutions, kneeling and washing his hands, face and feet.

He then sat on the edge of his iron-cot bed and began to read the Quran. It had been a gift from his wife, sent to him at the outset of his trial. But only after the court’s death sentence had been passed had Saddam begun to study it.

Meantime, in the execution chamber, final rehearsals were underway.

A sack filled with builder's sand was used to test the gallows trapdoor. Twice the trapdoor swung open and the bag plunged into the void. The hangman judged the rope had been fully stretched.

After each test an Iraqi technician checked the trapdoor. Each flap was secured to the gallows platform by three steel and oiled hinges. The trap opening had been made wider than usual to avoid any chance of Saddam's body catching the sides of the platform.

At 2:45 a.m. two mortuary attendants arrived with a plain wooden coffin. They placed it beside the gallows platform.

By 2:50 a.m. the handful of invited witnesses stood against one wall of the execution chamber. They included members of the Iraqi judiciary, clerics, a representative of the Iraqi government and a doctor.

Their whispered talking fell silent as the chamber door opened. Gripped by the two hooded Iraqi guards, Saddam Hussein stood there blinking in the bright lights.

These had been switched on for the Iraqi video cameraman. It was 3:01 a.m. The tripod camera was in a corner of the chamber, providing a wide-angle shot of the gallows. Each time the test sack had plunged through the trapdoor, the cameraman had filmed a test video to check his framing.

Now at 3:01 a.m. Saddam stood there for a moment longer. Gripped firmly by the elbows, his two guards then motioned him forward towards the 12 steps leading up to the gallows platform.

At the foot of the steps, an Iraqi government official stepped forward and began to read from a single sheet of paper. It was the official death sentence.

An observer recalled: "Saddam’s mouth started to work. But no words came. The terror in his eyes was there for us all to see. He started to struggle. But he had no muscular power."

The official withdrew. Gripped even tighter by the guards, Saddam was half-forced up the steps.

The executioner – another Iraqi – came forward. In his hand he held a hood. He offered the blindfold up to Saddam.

Saddam shook his head, his mouth opened and closed.

"From where I stood he seemed to look down at the trapdoor as if he wanted to avoid it," said one of the observers.

One of his guards quickly pinioned Saddam's hands behind his back. A black cloth had been placed around his neck where the noose was now positioned.

He was maneuvered onto the center of the platform.

The silence in the room was total.

Suddenly there was the sound of a lever being pushed down hard. The trapdoor swung open. Saddam's body plunged through.

Saddam's body, neck broken, hung suspended for a few minutes. Then the doctor stepped forward and listened through a stethoscope for a heartbeat. There was none.

The two morticians stepped under the platform and cut the body down. The knife they used to slice through the rope looked like the kind a butcher would use.

At 3:14 a.m. Saddam Hussein’s body was placed in the plain wooden coffin and taken to a mortuary storage vault while a final decision was taken on the manner of its disposal. His widow had already made a request for it to be handed over to her for burial.


----

It is what it is without commentary from me, except to say it's a woefully tragic shame that he spent his final eight weeks studying a Qur'an... and not a Bible.


Here's more

Saddam hanged for war crimes in Iraq

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA and QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA,
Associated Press Writers

BAGHDAD, Iraq -
Saddam Hussein struggled briefly after American military guards handed him over to Iraqi executioners. But as his final moments approached, he grew calm.

He clutched a Quran as he was led to the gallows, and in one final moment of defiance, refused to have a hood pulled over his head before facing the same fate he was accused of inflicting on countless thousands during a quarter-century of ruthless power.

A man whose testimony helped lead to Saddam's conviction and execution before sunrise said he was shown the body because "everybody wanted to make sure that he was really executed."

"Now, he is in the garbage of history," said Jawad Abdul-Aziz, who lost his father, three brothers and 22 cousins in the reprisal killings that followed a botched 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail.

Iraqi television showed what it said was Saddam's body, his head uncovered and the neck twisted at a sharp angle.

The footage showed the man identified as Saddam lying on a stretcher, covered in a white shroud. His neck and part of the shroud have what appear to be bloodstains. His eyes are closed.

In Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, hundreds of people danced in the streets while others fired guns in the air to celebrate. The government did not impose a round-the-clock curfew as it did last month when Saddam was convicted to thwart any surge in retaliatory violence.

It was a grim end for the 69-year-old leader who had vexed three U.S. presidents. Despite his ouster, Washington, its allies and the new Iraqi leaders remain mired in a fight to quell a stubborn insurgency by Saddam loyalists and a vicious sectarian conflict.

The execution took place during the year's deadliest month for U.S. troops, with the toll reaching 108.

President Bush said in a statement issued from his ranch in Texas that bringing Saddam to justice "is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror."

He said that the execution marks the "end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops" and cautioned that Saddam's death will not halt the violence in Iraq.

Within hours of his death, at least 46 people died and more than 80 were wounded in two bombings — 31 in one attack south of the capital and 15 in a Baghdad blast.

Ali Hamza, a 30-year-old university professor, said he went outside to shoot his gun into the air after he learned of Saddam's death.

"Now all the victims' families will be happy because Saddam got his just sentence," said Hamza, who lives in Diwaniyah, a Shiite town 80 miles south of Baghdad.

But people in the Sunni-dominated city of Tikrit, once a power base of Saddam, lamented his death.

"The president, the leader Saddam Hussein is a martyr and God will put him along with other martyrs. Do not be sad nor complain because he has died the death of a holy warrior," said Sheik Yahya al-Attawi, a cleric at the Saddam Big Mosque.

Police blocked the entrances to Tikrit and said nobody was allowed to leave or enter the city for four days. Despite the security precaution, gunmen took to the streets of Tikrit, carrying pictures of Saddam, shooting into the air, and calling for vengeance.

Security forces also set up roadblocks at the entrance to another Sunni stronghold, Samarra, and a curfew was imposed after about 500 people took to the streets protesting the execution of Saddam.

A couple hundred people also protested the execution just outside the Anbar capital of Ramadi, and more than 2,000 people demonstrated in Adwar, the village south of Tikrit where Saddam was captured by U.S. troops hiding in an underground bunker.

In a statement, Saddam's lawyers said that in the aftermath of his death, "the world will know that Saddam Hussein lived honestly, died honestly, and maintained his principles."

"He did not lie when he declared his trial null," they said.

Saddam's half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were not hanged along with their former leader as originally planned. Officials wanted to reserve the occasion for Saddam alone.

"We wanted him to be executed on a special day," National Security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie told state-run al-Iraqiya television.

Sami al-Askari, the political adviser of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, told The Associated Press that Saddam initially resisted when he was taken by Iraqi guards but was composed in his final moments.

He said Saddam was clad in a black suit, hat and shoes, rather than prison garb. His hat was removed and his hands tied shortly before the noose was slipped around his neck.

Saddam repeated a prayer after a Sunni Muslim cleric who was present.

"Saddam later was taken to the gallows and refused to have his head covered with a hood," al-Askari said. "Before the rope was put around his neck, Saddam shouted: 'God is great. The nation will be victorious and Palestine is Arab.'"

Iraqi state television showed footage of guards in ski masks placing a noose around Saddam's neck. Saddam appeared calm as he stood on the metal framework of the gallows. The footage cuts off just before the execution.

Saddam was executed at a former military intelligence headquarters in Baghdad's Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah, al-Askari said. During his regime, Saddam had numerous dissidents executed in the facility, located in a neighborhood that is home to the Iraqi capital's most important Shiite shrine — the Imam Kazim shrine.

Al-Askari said the government had not decided what to do with Saddam's body.

The Iraqi prime minister's office released a statement that said Saddam's execution was a "strong lesson" to ruthless leaders who commit crimes against their own people.

"We strongly reject considering Saddam as a representative of any sect in Iraq because the tyrant only represented his evil soul," the statement said. "The door is still open for those whose hands are not tainted with the blood of innocent people to take part in the political process and work on rebuilding Iraq."

The execution came 56 days after a court convicted Saddam and sentenced him to death for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from Dujail. Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam's appeal Monday and ordered him executed within 30 days.

A U.S. judge on Friday refused to stop Saddam's execution, rejecting a last-minute court challenge.

U.S. troops cheered as news of Saddam's execution appeared on television at the mess hall at Forward Operating Base Loyalty in eastern Baghdad. But some soldiers expressed doubt that Saddam's death would be a significant turning point for Iraq.

"First it was weapons of mass destruction. Then when there were none, it was that we had to find Saddam. We did that, but then it was that we had to put him on trial," said Spc. Thomas Sheck, 25, who is on his second tour in Iraq. "So now, what will be the next story they tell us to keep us over here?"

At his death, he was in the midst of a second trial, charged with genocide and other crimes for a 1987-88 military crackdown that killed an estimated 180,000 Kurds in northern Iraq. Experts said the trial of his co-defendants was likely to continue despite his execution.

Many people in Iraq's Shiite majority were eager to see the execution of a man whose Sunni Arab-dominated regime oppressed them and Kurds. Before the hanging, a mosque preacher in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Friday called Saddam's execution "God's gift to Iraqis."

In a farewell message to Iraqis posted Wednesday on the Internet, Saddam said he was giving his life for his country as part of the struggle against the U.S. "Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if he wants, he will send it to heaven with the martyrs," he said.

One of Saddam's lawyers, Issam Ghazzawi, said the letter was written by Saddam on Nov. 5, the day he was convicted by an Iraqi tribunal in the Dujail killings.

Najeeb al-Nauimi, a member of Saddam's legal team, said U.S. authorities maintained physical custody of Saddam until the execution to prevent him being humiliated publicly or his corpse being mutilated, as has happened to previous Iraqi leaders deposed by force. He said they didn't want anything to happen to further inflame Sunni Arabs.

"This is the end of an era in Iraq," al-Nauimi said from Doha, Qatar. "The Baath regime ruled for 35 years. Saddam was vice president or president of Iraq during those years. For Iraqis, he will be very well remembered. Like a martyr, he died for the sake of his country."

Iraq's death penalty was suspended by the U.S. military after it toppled Saddam in 2003, but the new Iraqi government reinstated it two years later, saying executions would deter criminals.

Saddam's own regime used executions and extrajudicial killings as a tool of political repression, both to eliminate real or suspected political opponents and to maintain a reign of terror.

In the months after he seized power on July 16, 1979, he had hundreds of members of his own party and army officers slain. In 1996, he ordered the slaying of two sons-in-law who had defected to Jordan but returned to Baghdad after receiving guarantees of safety.

Saddam built Iraq into a one of the Arab world's most modern societies, but then plunged the country into an eight-year war with neighboring
Iran that killed hundreds of thousands of people on both sides and wrecked Iraq's economy.

When the U.S. invaded in 2003, Iraqis had been transformed from among the region's most prosperous people to some of its most impoverished.

___

Associated Press Writer Will Weissert contributed to this report.




----

A man who ruthlessly ruled his country for more than a quarter century is found to have been rejected by his country, and is become a man without a country, and his grave without a marker.

"We strongly reject considering Saddam as a representative of any sect in Iraq because the tyrant only represented his evil soul"




Here's more

Friday, December 29, 2006

A Few Quick Items...


Saw this on a bumper-sticker this morning while making deliveries...

Hatred Is A Learned Behavior

File that one under "Wishful Thinking" because it's utterly false. The truth is we are all born with the seed of hatred in our hearts, and we don't have to be taught how to make it grow, or bear fruit...

Now it's true that concepts like "Nigger" "Cracker" and "Hymie" do in fact have to be learned, but even without those labels there would be whites who hated blacks, blacks who hated whites, and a fair mixture of both who hated Jews.


Moving on....


There's an interesting debate going on at WorldNetDaily; Rick Warren and the Emergent Church being the subject. Here's a few choice quotes:

"If other Churches that abide in the Warren philosophy, such as Chicago's gargantuan "Willow Creek," were to truly uphold Christian values among their enormous congregations, they would certainly be a constant "thorn in the side" of their surrounding populace, acculturated into the modernism as those communities certainly are. Yet an amazing degree of compatibility and congeniality exists between the Warren Church model and the social structures of Chicago and Southern California."

                                   ---

"True servants of G*d do not concede to evil in order to add to the kingdom of G*d.

                                   ---

"...though it's unfortunate and saddening to watch these ravening wolves rend the flock it is simultaneously heartening to see in the midst of this present darkness that there are still those willing to speak out against the spiritual adultery committed by these men and their kind. There remains a remnant of true believers within the Body who are empowered by the Holy Spirit with discernment and love of the true Gospel message of Christ crucified; the one and only Truth. These few stand as sentries in the darkness shining forth their candles of truth and light; the teachings of infallible scripture. While others question the validity and relevance of the Bible these few hold fast to their first love, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh."


Sticking strictly to the words of our Lord, Jesus said,

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?

--Matthew 10:24-25

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.

John 15:18-21

Something is not right with these big mega-churches... Seriously. Question is, can it be fixed or should it be scrapped, as in shunned altogether by the Bride of Christ? In any case, genuine believers should be making an attempt to spread the genuine Gospel within the ranks of these dead churches.


Moving on...


If Saddam is truly executed within the next 48 hours, it will only serve to prove the old adage... 'Famous people die in threes'

James Brown
President Ford
Saddam Hussein



Lastly...


I regularly visit a few Jabberwocky Pulpits on the web. I don't comment near as often as I'd like-- Prudence and Temperance, twin sisters of different mothers, stay my hand. One commenter at one such place has this phrase on his profile page...

"The peaches, apples, plums and pears
are guarded by ferocious bears."

...A level of cuteness that oddly compliments kool-aid stained lips. Odder still is that's all there is... On the entire net! One line of verse.

What wasted potential! Ahhh, but that's the story of the whole of humanity, neh?


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Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

EL's going to be on the road in about an hour... ish... Off to Panama City Florida where he'll enjoy the holiday with his family. Prime Rib is on the Menu-- a first for the Ashley Clan... there's so few of us left these days... 3 actually; the rest are married into other families or dead... no rose colored glasses here! Not this day! But this is typical for me... too many... issues... regrets... to truly enjoy this day. On top of all this, James Brown, the Godfather of soul, had the misfortune of dying early this morning at the age of 73... He's not the reason for my seasonal low-spirit, but I do wonder if he was saved... Well, have to be on the road by 10:30... ish ...to make the 80 minute drive... probably less, the way I drive this particular route.

Not going to be blogging much the rest of the year. Got a lot to think about, pray about, DO about, on top of my two jobs and another year fast approaching. It's not likely I'll elaborate on any of this, so... it is what it is.

Thanks for being here. Have a merry Christmas, and I promise to try and do the same...





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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ethiopia has an Air Force ?!?

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Ethiopia launched an attack Sunday on Somalia's powerful Islamic movement, sending fighter jets across the border and bombarding several towns in a major escalation of the violence that threatens to engulf the Horn of Africa.

----

Said a representative of Somalia Islamic Council...

"They are cowards," said Sheik Mohamoud Ibrahim Suley, "They are afraid of the face-to-face war and resorted to airstrikes. I hope God will help us shoot down their planes."

Translation-- "[sniff, sniffle, pout] No fair! How do we put IED's in the sky? How do we kill innocent civilians with car bombs and IED's in the air? Kofi! Make them fight fair!"


Said a representative of the Ethiopian Government...

"After too much patience," said Ethiopia's foreign affairs spokesman, Solomon Abebe, "The Ethiopian government has taken a self-defensive measure and has begun counterattacking the aggressive extremist forces of the (Islamic council) and foreign terrorist groups."

Translation-- "The Ethiopian Government is not filled with limp-wristed American democrats, bub! Go ahead and cry to Kofi, see if we care! We've got a can of whup-a$$, and we're not afraid to use it!"


But... Since when did Ethiopia have an Air Force??? Who sold them the planes? In all likelihood, WE did!

"...[It] is the United States that by far remains the top purveyor of high-tech arms to areas where analysts believe the likelihood of armed conflict remains highest. A study last year by the progressive World Policy Institute found that the United States transferred weaponry to 18 of the 25 countries involved in an ongoing war.

"From Angola, Chad, and Ethiopia, to Colombia, Pakistan, and the Philippines, transfers through the two largest US arms sales programs [Foreign Military sales and Commercial Sales] to these conflict nations totaled nearly $1 billion in 2003," the report found."


Ahhh, I can hear it now... the whining of jihadists everywhere...

"[sniffle, sniff, honk!!!] If only the Great Satan was not so powerful... We could run roughshod over the entire world! Putting all their women in potato sacks, cutting off their clitoruseses, turning the entire world into a third world hovel... [sighs dreamily] Allah, It's simply not fair! When will you let your servants defeat the evil west? [this while gazing imploringly upon an idol of stone, which may as well be a banana peel for all the efficacy of Godly power it possesses]"


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Friday, December 22, 2006

3 Quotes from....


"People of the Lie"
by Roger Ringer

"These professional liars fully understand that when you tell The Big Lie, you can't be defensive when the facts threaten to expose you. On the contrary, you have to be prepared to feign indignation and immediately go on the offensive."

" 'The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. … We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end. … The object of power is power.' "

"Do you really believe the teller of The Big Lie is going to respond to your presentation of the facts by saying, 'Gee, I hadn't really thought about it that way before. I guess I was wrong.' Forget it. People of the Lie thrive on telling The Big Lie; it's what they live for."



Personal Note:.. Okay, but what's to be done? How is ambition killed in the hearts of the ambitious?


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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Face of Evil...

...and I don't say that lightly. Just looking at his face is enough to feel deep in my spirit that there is nothing of God behind those eyes.

In his latest remarks the facade that calls itself Ahmadinejad said,

"I wish all the Christians a very happy new year and I wish to ask them a question as well,"

Okay, President Ahmadinejad, since you were reasonably polite and solicitous, fire away!

"My one question from [sic] the Christians is: What would Jesus do if he were present in the world today? What would he do before some of the oppressive powers of the world who are in fact residing in Christian countries? Which powers would he revive and which of them would he destroy? ...If Jesus were present today, who would be facing him and who would be following him?"

Wow! What a series of questions!

Firstly, you assume falsely that this and other non-Muslim nations are Christian nations. But fine.

Secondly, as you and yours don't view Jesus in the same light as Christians, it's clear your remaining questions reveal cunning, if shoddy, logic. No Muslim nation would stand with the Jesus as described in the Bible. But then neither will a lot of those nations you refer to as 'Christian'. Sad, but true.

But what I find most disturbing about your prophetic views, sir, is your belief that your own Mahdi will come and reign on earth for seven years before bringing about the final judgment and the end of the world. The only figure in scripture, sir, that reigns for seven years before a supposed 'final' judgment is the Antichrist? Oh, and the world will never end-- go through some mighty big changes and upheavals, yes! But end? Not hardly. The end of the world is not anywhere near nigh; it's not in the same ballpark, on the same page or even in the same book.

It's truly sad, sir, that your people have fallen for the lies of the enemy; co-opting the proven and genuine prophecies of God for himself. Satan has always been a liar; he knows nothing else. Repent sir. Repent before your Mahdi comes, for surely on that day, the Bride of Christ will be gone, and the real God of Heaven will cause a strong delusion to settle over the world, so that everyone should believe a lie. Accept the Mahdi's mark and your fate will be forever sealed, for there is no repentance or forgiveness after receiving that mark.



But then, judging from what I see behind that man's eyes, it may well be pointless to ask Ahmadinejad to repent, except that it's the right and Godly thing to do.



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The Smell of Space


According to Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist, space smells "...a bit like burnt cookies."

Peggy Whitson, former resident of the International Space Station, describes space as having "...almost a bitter kind of smell in addition to being smoky and burned."

And why wouldn't it? It makes perfect sense! But then who would ever have thought that the vacuum of space would have an odor at all? Kind of makes you wonder... Does Space have a flavor as well?

What might a chilled bowl of dark matter with a creamy dollop of nebulae taste like? But then, that's not space, is it? Why wouldn't matter leave a taste in one's mouth? So what does the cold vacuum of space taste like? Perhaps one day I'll find out.


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"The moment a person finds his voice is the moment his life takes on grace..."

--Story


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Friday, December 15, 2006

The Blasphemy Challenge ..:UPDATE:..

ER forwarded me a link to one of the most heartbreaking sites to which I have ever been. It literally, and unashamedly brought tears to my eyes.

Father in heaven, I pray you destroy this evil, and bring swift justice to those who manage the Blasphemy Challenge. I beg you Lord to please, somehow, put a stop to it. I further ask that you forgive those who have taken the challenge and show them, leaving no room for doubt, that You ARE the LORD of Glory. And help me to be a better witness.

I lift up this prayer in the holy name of Jesus. Amen.


I've offered the link only so other believers can witness this abomination of the enemy, and I ask that you all echo and add to the prayer I've offered. Nothing is beyond the power of the Lord to perform, and He knows how to answer prayer. Please pray, believing, that our Lord will destroy this site and bring swift justice to these enemies of God-- There are currently 174 videos blaspheming the Holy Ghost.

----
Thank you, ER, for the link. I deeply appreciate it. On this we do indeed agree.

----

..:UPDATE:..
December 18, 2006

According to the little counter at the top of the video screen there now appears to be 900 respondents to the blasphemy challenge. What's struck me as significant is, thus far, I have yet to have seen a video from someone older [or appearing to be older] than 19? ... 21?

What a sad testament to the state of faith in America. This is what permissiveness, and the concerted effort [whatever my detracters may think] to cleanse our culture of God and Jesus. Prayer is gone from school, the bible in no longer taught, Nativity scenes are no longer welcome on public property, the colors red and green are banned in some school systems. Christmas trees aren't welcome in many places. Even Santa Claus [decided NOT a religious symbol] is not welcome in, of all places, Disney World. Even our holidays [Holy-Days] are being stripped of their religious significance. It's now holiday trees, winter trees, happy holidays, happy Kwaanza, even happy Channukah is most places... but not merry Christmas.

It's not a wonder these young turks have no faith in God; they have been raised [or not, as the case may be] by a generation who also sees nothing wrong with sanitizing the reason for the season.



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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What kind of stories will we hear in heaven?


"Before I knew the Lord I killed two people with a pick axe and bragged about it, I was so sick on the inside. But it took being sentenced to death for the light and love of our Lord to reach my heart, I am so thankful that God, in His infinite mercy, saw something of worth in me, and saved my soul. And even though I was executed for my sins against men, my sins against Father were forgotten and cast as far away as the east is from the west.

"I am so thankful, that our Lord used me while in prison and built up in me a powerful testimony of love and forgiveness. Some chose not to believe my Love for Jesus was real, but that is between He and them. I used what time I had left, from the confines of my prison cell to point to Him...."

Perhaps these will be the words Karla Faye Tucker uses to testify of God's great love and mercy in her life. I for one would love to hear it.

What about Charles "Tex" Watson, who was Charles Manson's right-hand man? Who himself murdered actress Sharon Tate. His death sentence was reversed, but he'll still remain in prison for what remains of his life. He's a born again believer in Christ, and a child of the living God, working out his salvation.... In prison. I said working out, not for. What kind of story will he have to tell? Will his testimony be greater than mine? Or yours?

What about Jeffrey Dahmer? By all accounts he came to know Christ in prison before he was murdered. I sincerely hope this is borne out in eternity. What kind of testimony might he have had for the Gospel of our Lord had the enemy not taken him out so soon? What will Dahmer have to say in praise of our Lord Jesus, when we are all gathered together on that other shore... Telling salvation stories?

Will my story be as filled with grace, demonstrating the Grace and Majesty of God?

Everything I see and read tells me time is short, and as Nichole Nordeman sang...

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy


Who did you think would be in heaven? Just saints? Well... yeah!


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Chapter 10 ..:Part Two:..

In the book of John, chapter 10, is Jesus' discourse the Good Shepherd...

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

--John 10:1-5

Here we have 4 different persons: The Robber/Thief, The Shepherd, The Porter, and the Sheep (the Stranger is synonymous with the Robber/Thief). I have often heard this parable described as an admonishment to those who would try to come to God by any other way but Jesus, but this is not the case. The focus in this passage is not the Sheep [or the wannabe sheep], but rather, the Shepherd and the Robber/Thief.

The sheepfold is the state of continuing sanctification into the body of what the New Testament calls 'the Church', the Bride of Christ. It only makes sense that if Jesus is the Lamb of God that His Bride would be referred to as 'Sheep'. The Door in this passage, however, is the most significant element. Anyone who doesn't enter in by the door is a thief and robber... and NOT the shepherd. So, who is the shepherd? He who enters in by the Door.

So what is the door? The door is the sum total of prophecy and conditions that a man must meet to BE the shepherd. The door could be said to be the Virgin Birth. It could be said to be the Virgin Birth in the town of Bethlehem. It could be said to be that this Virgin Birth would not only occur in the town of Bethlehem, the City of David, but would also be 'a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch [that should] grow out of his roots' [Isaiah 11:1]. Anyone coming in by any other way is not the Shepherd, but a robber and a thief, and the sheep will not hear his voice.

The Jews were well aware of the prophecies surrounding the coming of Messiah. They even understood the time in which he would come, via the prophet Daniel. The people of Mary and Joseph's day knew the prophecy of the Messiah was close to fulfillment. Many understood this but many probably didn't really believe-- much like today --and those who DID believe were looking for a King, not a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. But the point is, Jesus is the Shepherd, and the Porter is the Holy Ghost who overshadowed Mary and allowed her to conceive the holy son of God-- God in human form.

But Jesus' disciples didn't understand this parable, so He expounded upon it and added to it...

This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

--John 10:6-16

All that ever came before Him were theives and robbers, the same is also true of all those who came after Him. By fulfilling the requirements for the birth of Messiah, Jesus becomes the door. He Himself said as much; "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" [John 14:6]. Whereas the Holy Ghost was the door by which Jesus came into the world, So too now is Jesus the Door by which we now come unto eternal life. And "...there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" [Acts 4:12].

The Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep, but not the hireling; not the Robber/Thief. This then is what separates Jesus from all other pretenders: His sacrifice, in God's own blood [Acts 20:28], for the lives of His sheep.

But then Jesus says something that makes me wonder if His disciples truly understood... "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" [John 10:16].

OTHER sheep, not of THIS fold.

Now, the Mormons take this verse and base their entire acceptance of Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon-- a false testament if ever there was one --wherein is taught that Jesus came to the America's to preach to "other" sheep. But this is pure fantasy; A myth, and a fable. Looking back at Peter's vision in Acts 10, it is clear that Jesus gave His disciples the word that Gentiles would also be added to the fold; or rather, the Church. It's obvious that they didn't catch on, because Peter had to see the Holy Ghost falling upon the heads of Cornelius and his household and hear them all speaking with tongues and magnifying God, for it all to sink in.

Even when Jesus was working primarily for the benefit of the Jewish people in terms of witnessing and performing miracles, he was thinking about us as well; those of us who are Gentile born. If that's not something to be thankful for this Christmas holiday, I can't imagine what is.


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Monday, December 11, 2006

Chapter 10 ..:Part One:..

In the book of Acts, chapter 10, is the account of Peter's vision...

And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

--Acts 10:10-22



The seemingly indestructible Dan and others have commented recently and in the past that we all pick and choose what we accept from the bible, and that some passages were for a different time, and different people. The eating of shellfish, and pork are readily brought forward as an example of how things have changed in terms of what's allowable and what is not. Well, okay. Let's look at a chapter that seems to speak to what is and is not unclean in terms of diet.

Every time a question about diet and 'The Law' is brought forward, the above passage from the book of Acts is invariably pulled out of mothballs to prove that eating pork and shrimp is fine and dandy. But does this passage really speak to diet?

When God offered Peter a spread of typically unclean beasts to kill and feast upon, Peter said, "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean."

But God responded with, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." On the surface this appears to be permission to eat what God had previously called unclean. But remember that God changes not; what was unclean in the Old Testament is still unclean. But no one is going to stone you for that BLT you had the other day.

In Leviticus 11:7 God says, "And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you." There are other verses describing other creatures as unclean but this is enough testimony to the fact that in the book of Acts God has used unclean beasts as a metaphor, but a metaphor for what?

The same text from Acts says, "the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them." No, these men weren't bearing sausages and fried catfish, they bore a request from their lord-- one Cornelius from the town of Caesarea, and it is not likely Cornelius was inviting Peter over for ribs. It becomes clear by the end of chapter 10 that the reason for Peter's vision was to show Peter that the Gentiles were no longer to be considered unclean, for the sacrifice of Christ had made possible the cleansing of the Gentile nations, as will be pointed out in "Chapter 10 ..:Part Two:.."

People are free to eat lobster and shrimp if they choose, as well as pork. Some of the Levitical laws were purely for the health of God's people the Jews, others were to demostrate the nature of God's holiness; what He can and cannot accept in His presence. God has said that Obedience is better than Sacrifice. In the days of the Law's deliverance to the Children of Israel, God was seeking obedience. He was, as all good husbandmen do, setting out the standard by which He would cull the herd-- His would be a peculiar people; a people set apart from the other nations of the world. Perhaps this was what He deemed necessary to insure the bad habits of a few didn't infect the entire herd; if one person began to eat swine many others may follow suit. If fornication, incest, and homosexuality become acceptable the entire herd could fall victim to disease and abberation, at which point the herd must be destroyed altogether. Look at what has become acceptable in America today...

But we don't kill rebellious children or stone adulters-- or gays for that matter --because God is not willing that any should perish; anyone can find forgiveness in God. The Levitical laws governing diet and sexual purity still have relevance today, for the benefit not only of our health, but for our holiness and purity and obedience to God's word in recognition of His great wisdom in telling us what is and is not safe to eat... Among other equally important things.

The God of Leviticus is still the same God of the New Testament. God hasn't changed, for everyone still deserves death-- not just rebellious children, adulterers, and gays --for the evil that resides in our hearts. But there is a way, a truth, and a life obtainable through Jesus. No one has to die in their sin and pay the ultimate price for their obstinance.

Some folks like to look at Peter's vision in the book of Acts as a license to eat pork and shellfish, but this is simply not the case. God used what was 'unclean' to demonstrate to Peter that Gentiles-- unclean in the Jew's eye --were now welcome in the new order-- the Church. I assure you, Peter and Paul and all the others DID NOT say to themselves, "Hey, there's a man selling sausage... let's go try some!" Pigs are still unclean, as are Oysters, and Shrimp, and Lobster, and Catfish... Everyone is free to eat from that plate, but whoever does will pay the price in terms of a depreciation in good health. God wants us healthy and would prefer we don't eat such things, but nothing the Lord has made is evil. Even Lobsters serve a purpose in the greater scheme of things, and they happen to be quite tasty with real drawn butter. People die eating oysters-- not so much with lobsters, but eating pork is a much slower death.

There's no picking and choosing here. What was true in the Old Testament is still true today. To borrow a phrase from ER-- God is still speaking, and His message hasn't changed. Just as He told Adam that in the day he ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would surely die; neglecting to tell Adam that death would be some 900 years distant, so too are God's warnings about Pork and Shellfish. These foods may not kill you the instant you eat them, but they will shorten your life.

Going back to verse 15:

"What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."

Please note that Peter said 'common or unclean', but God makes no mention of unclean only 'common'. When God cleans something it's no longer common. Before the cross what hope had Gentiles of Salvation short of converting to Judaism and placing themselves under the Law? None. But "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!" For what God said to Isaiah still stands today, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes... though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

The blood of Christ cleanses men's souls from sin, not pork from its uncleanness. But choosing to not eat pork for reasons of health should not be confused with falling into legalism, for such a choice to be deemed legalistic the man who chooses to abstain from unclean beasts must believe that by doing so he makes himself holy and righteous before God, making it 'Salvation by Works', and not of Grace. Choosing to abstain from unhealthy foods is more than just prudent, it is wise; and perfectly acceptable under Grace, for the right reason.



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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Old Testament Relevance

Specifically, Isaiah...


The Bible consists of 66 books, in two parts-- the Cross at the fulcrum:
39 Books in the Old Testament, looking toward the Cross
27 Books in the New Testament, looking beyond the Cross

Curiously, Isaiah consists of 66 Chapters, in two parts-- The Captivity at the fulcrum:
39 Chapters looking toward the Captivites
27 Chapters looking beyond the Captivites


Scofield had this to say about the Book of Isaiah...

Nowhere else in the Scriptures written under the law have we so clear a view of grace. The New Testament Church does not appear, but Messiah in His Person and sufferings, and the blessing of the Gentiles through Him, are in full vision.

If any Old Testament book can be said to contain the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ it is the Book of Isaiah, which is why it is often called the Old Testament Gospel, or the Gospel according to Isaiah.

I have recently been told that I should get out of the Old Testament; in effect, "out of the Law", and into the New, where the Grace of our Lord can be found. The Old, after all, is no longer relevant. We are under Grace now, not Law.

But I shouldn't have to point out that only Christians are under Grace. Everyone else is still under the Law and its ultimate judgment. We are not all under Grace, even though Grace is there for any who want it and earnestly seek it.

I've taken some criticism over my criticism of what passes for Christianity in some churches today... Many of today's churches... And hounded with questions that seem crafted for division more than honest debate. It is sad to see this day come; the church sullying itself in the ditches of Compromise in the name of Inclusiveness; when liberal philosophies have tainted the holy waters of God's message to the world, that Salvation is free for the asking, in repentance. But the liberal church is making far too many compromises to win anything more than the occasional soul... Lots of converts, but few souls. Some things are simply not negotiable.

Sexual impurity. Homosexuality. Pornography. Drug Use. Abortion... and the support of such. By sitting back, mouth shut, afraid to speak out against such we, in effect, support what is, in God's eye, non-negotiable.

But I'm stuck in the Old Testament. All... Alllllllll I do is judge and condemn, all the while insisting I am but the messenger. I am cold, heartless, and willing to consign everyone who doesn't believe as I do to the fiery pits of blackest hell. Because I am stuck in the Old Testament. The New is all about Love and Forgiveness. Yet those who cling to that tuft of grass conveniently forget the personal sacrifice our Lord made to bring about this new age of Love and Grace. It is the New Testament we are to follow now, the old has no relevance to today. Or does it?

Let's contrast the Old with the New in terms of where today's church is in relation to walking in the Truth and Light of God.

The Lord GOD, which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him. All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

--Isaiah 56:8-12


This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. [...] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

--2 Timothy 3:1-8, 4:3-4


The bulk of today's church has fallen for a lie so beautifully wrapped in half-truths and distortions that even the elect have been deceived. Our shepherds have 'ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward' [Jude 11]; mega-churches that teach new mysticism for spirituality, and compromise in the name of tolerance and inclusiveness; because the Gospel is inclusive, right? Not entirely.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

--Romans 10:9

Please note the second word... 'If'. And the first word, second phrase... 'And'. These represent contingents, or requirements. 'If' this, 'And' that, then 'Thou shalt be'... The Gospel is inclusive, but Christianity is exclusive. The call to the marriage feast is inclusive, but the wedding garments are exclusive.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 says,

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.


The hymn says, "Just as I am... I come." And that's enough for a new start. God will take you as you are, wherever you are, however deep you are. But when he puts that new robe on you, and places that ring on your finger, and orders the fatted calf killed in celebration, He wants you to stay with Him, and not return to what you were. He has made you a new creature, "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." [2 Cor 5:17] Yet if you do stumble, you are still His son or daughter, all you need do is ask His forgiveness, dust yourself off, and continue moving away from what you were...

The new liberal church isn't interested in this brand of Christianity, however. Homosexuals can stay in committed loving relationships. Abortion-- while not the preferred choice --must remain an option for women who would choose that path; no sympathy for the unborn, but plenty for convicted killers on death row.

There is plenty of relevance in the Old Testament. After all, if there were no Old Testament would anyone believe the story of a man, born of a virgin, who was God in human flesh, who lived a sinless life, to die a substitutionary death for all of mankind, that anyone who believed on such a man would not have to answer for their sins after death and suffer an eternity in hell, but find forgiveness and an eternity in heaven with this same God-man?


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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Can anyone honestly say to one's neighbor...


..."I am righteous" ?


My answer to this is 'Yes'...

And 'No'.




Unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees we will not see heaven. Simple statement of truth. What hope within our own ability is there of seeing heaven? None.

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Looking at the Ark of the Covenant: Within the box rested the tablets of the Law, among other things. Placed over the law was a lid; a covering-- or 'mercy seat' --of beaten gold (Gold represents kingship and diety. The fact that the covering is of beaten gold respresents His chastisment for our sin).

Atop the mercy seat were to Cherubims facing each other with wings stretching to meet in the middle, above and between the wings of the Cherubims rested the physical manifestation of God, the Shekinah Glory. Once a year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood upon the mercy seat for the remission of sins for the entire house of Israel.

We are, each of us, doomed by the Law. Without forgiveness the Law both judges and condemns us all. But when God looks down upon us he doesn't see the Law, He sees His beaten and bloodied son. He sees His son's righteousness imputed to us; covering our sin. If we are truly saved, then our Lord's righteousness is imputed to us... it is our righteousness. We have cast off the old filthy rags we came home in, and accepted the bright clean robes our Father lovingly laid upon our shoulders. He has placed a ring upon our finger, and has ordered the fatted calf be killed in preparation for a feast. For His son who was dead and in the world, has come home and is alive.

Do we still dishonor our Father? Daily. And often. But we have Him to thank that His gifts to us are without repentance, and our sins are covered by His own blood.

If we revel in our own righteousness; claiming we are so because of the work of our own mind and hands we fall into error, and self-righteouness-- Idolatry. Claiming the gift God has given us through His son, in humility, seeking to do His will out of love, that is Godly righteousness. For without it, no one can enter into heaven.

We are made righteous in Him; Not for anything we have done, but for everything He has done. The Christian DOES have righteousness that far exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees. It is not his own, but the gift of his Lord... His wedding garments, purchased for him by the Bridegroom, and his entrance into the feast to come. He should be proud of it, as a bride would be of her husbands gift; not because she deserved it, but because her husband thought well enough of her to offer it freely as a gift.

It is good that we should know who we are in relation to God the Father, and Jesus Christ; cognizant of the fact that without Him we are doomed, thankful for gifts He has and will bestow upon us, and proudly serve him and claim His gifts as our own. He has given us His full armor and a very sharp sword, we should proudly wear in humility; grateful for the knowledge that His righteousness bestowed upon us grants us entrance into heaven, and greater gifts to come.



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EL at the Movies

I saw The Nativity Story last weekend. Good movie-- believable sets, clothing, fantastic music that interwove traditional Christmas carols into the film's score. But too much comic relief-- as Hollywood is wont to do --in the form of three wise men from the east. My only gripe, and it's relatively small, is the wise men showing up the night of Jesus' birth, as opposed to days or weeks later.

Today I am going to see Mel Gibson's Apocalypto. I will go from last week's bible-based film to this week's glimpse into the evils of paganism and human sacrifice.

One film I am looking forward to is an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300, due out this coming March, which tells the story of 300 Spartans fending off 1 million persians at the Battle of Thermopylae. I watched a trailer online yesterday, and was magnificently impressed. It had the look and feel of a cross-pollination between a Maxwell Parrish painting, the written works of JRR Tolkien, and a dash of Robert E. Howard. The film had a creaminess to its texture, as though even dry stone and bleached skulls had the look of oiled silk.


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Friday, December 08, 2006

My Name is Jude ..:Chapter Two:..

It has taken just under two weeks to commit the Book of Jude to memory. But that's just memory. If you asked me to recite verse 18, I couldn't do it. So I picked up a couple packs of 3X5 index cards this evening so I can make flash cards to associate the verse numbers with their respective verses. After that's down, I'll begin to digest the whole thing by breaking each verse down grammatically to understand what relates to what; structurally speaking, and ultimately find relevant meaning, and eventually understanding. In this manner I hope to learn the Book of Jude rather than simply memorize it.

I figure...

1) Another two weeks to associate numbers to verses
2) Two more weeks to break it down grammatically
3) And a month or more, more, to understand it enough
     to have hidden the Book in my heart

Ten years ago I had the seventh chapter of Matthew memorized, but I didn't go the lengths to which I'm now going. With e-Sword I have the option of having whichever passages I choose pop up in a memory verse window at startup-- 20 minutes once a week will maintain the work I've done. I haven't decided where I'll go next. Perhaps 2nd or 3rd John-- If I can get those two perhaps 1 John won't seem so daunting, OR, I could go back and pick up Matthew 7 again, perhaps even 5 and 6 as well.

But who's to say what we'll do tomorrow when only tomorrow knows what tomorrow has in store... I could be gone tomorrow.

Ciao


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"Brainwashed Legions" ?


A video game that depicts a crusade of violence by Christians could be heading for the bestseller charts this Christmas, even though it has been condemned by Muslims and secularists.
Even though Secularists and Muslims have little objection to the countless other games that promote murder, brutality, and filth...

Players are ordered to convert or kill to advance to the next level and remodel America as a Christian-controlled state, and establish its world vision of Christ's dominion.
As opposed to simply 'KILL to advance to the next level' which describes thousands of other 'secular' games, which receive little or no objection by 'Secularists'. The objection appears to be to the 'idea' of conversion... And yet these Secularists (unwitting dupes of the aforementioned Muslims) are not the least bit concerned with the very real threat (as opposed to the make-believe threat within the context of a computer game) of forced conversion to Islam should the West continue to demonstrate a genuinely spineless lack of resolve in defending its freedom. Furthermore, the very fact that this game is further put into terms of 'establishing' a world-wide theocracy is not only ludicrous, but stands out as the very real fear of all Secularists... That anyone should rule mankind in the name of God.

But here's the kicker-- This game (Left Behind: Eternal Forces)...

Based on Left Behind, the bestselling Christian fantasy book series created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins ...puts players in command of brainwashed legions fighting for Christianity.
Brainwashed Legions! It's the Christians during the tribulation hour that are 'brainwashed', not the unbelieving world upon whom God has sent a "strong delusion" --2 Thessalonians 2:11 (but for context read verses 1-12).

Christianity is attacked daily in this country and around the world. This nation used to be a haven for religious tolerance, but now that tolerance extends itself to every faith BUT Christianity, the faith that established this nation in the first place.



So here's a question:

Assuming the rapture is real and it occurs pre-millennially, when the world begins to persecute tribulation saints (Christian converts AFTER the rapture) in earnest, killing all those who refuse the mark of the beast (i.e.; forced conversion), are the rules Christ set for the Church still in effect, even though the Church has now been snatched out of the world? By that I mean, are these 'Christians' supposed to meekly surrender and allow themselves to be martyred? Or will 'turning the other cheek' still be applicable? If the forces of the antichrist are hunting Christians down, killing them in the streets or taking them off to face public executions (beheadings), how far will these new Christians be allowed to go to protect themselves and their new brethren within the ranks of the 'tribulation saintdom' (for lack [at present] of a better term)?


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Sunday, December 03, 2006

In Response to Comments from the Previous Post

Dan,

The book of Isaiah, chapter 1 and verse 18, reads as follows:

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."


God sought to reason with Israel, to bring her back to righteousness before the Lord, and though this was written some twenty-five hundred years ago, give or take, God doesn't change; He still seeks to reason with us. But how does one reason with unreason... Or with sarcasm? Because reason is not possible with you-- at present --I won't bother trying. I've stated my position countless times here and elsewhere for months now, yet you are no closer to grasping my meaning. I am therefore not going to be drawn into another pointless, profitless argument with you. I don't know everyone who is reading this blog. I am sure there are some who read and never bother to comment, so why would I wish to continually serve them a steaming bowl of bitter contention? The simple truth, which you seem unwilling to accept, is "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." The Bible speaks plainly and clearly on what is and is not sin, and what is His people's proper response to sin and the sinner.

The Bible also says, "A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident." And there is too much contention within the Church as it is.

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" And there is too much acceptance of what is unacceptable with the Church today.

But what do I know? I am stuck in the Old Testament, as someone once said; as though the Old Testament no longer had ANY relevance to us today.

Here's a question; the only question I'll address with you from here on out...

Comparing the first century Church-- that of Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon Zelotes, Judas the brother of James... And Paul --with today's church, are the divisions we endure today-- doctrinally speaking --comparable with the divisions of the aforementioned first century Church? And if not? Why? Where has today's Church gone wrong?


The fact that I chose to add 'And if not?' should be enough of a clue as to where I side on this question. Let's discuss why today's Church has chosen to forsake morality in favor of inclusion, and ecumenism.

That is the only question I will entertain with you. Come now, let us reason together... And let the chips fall where they may.





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