Saturday, December 18, 2010

The "Scientific" Laws of Islam

Reference: Iingam, Rama. Iddat, a Scientific Concept in the Islamic Law to Identify the Paternity. Downloaded 18 December 2010.

Something surprised me while I looked at writing samples from a web site that pays writers for short articles. The article is Iddat, a Scientific Concept in the Islamic Law to Identify the Paternity. The web site identifies writer Rama Iingam as its #4 expert in Divorce and Family Law.

The writer wishes to convince readers that many of [Muslim Law's] concepts are logical, reasonable and above all... scientifically based and have withstood the test of time.

Before we proceed, we need to define Iddat:

Iddat is quite scientific and it is helpful to identify the paternity of a child. Iddat is nothing but a period of probation a Muslim woman has to undergo immediately after she was divorced by her husband or on his death.

By probation, he means isolation. The law prevents confusion over paternity by ensuring that no child is conceived immediately after divorce or after the death of a husband. Here's the interesting part:

When a Muslim wife below the age of 8 who is under the menopause stage, even if her marriage is consummated, she need not undergo Iddat, when she is divorced or when her husband died.

How many 8-year-olds have undergone menopause? Hopefully, the author meant 'puberty;' so we will let that slide.

I admire Rama Iingam's courage to expose Islam's allowance for consummation of pre-pubescent marriage. Or, I am thankful for his naive exposure of a law, Iddat, that should be spelled Idiot.

What kind of culture condones consummation of marriage to a little girl who is only seven years old, or even younger? Muslims get quite worked up over others' sacrilege toward their false god. Perhaps they should concern themselves more with the blasphemy that is Islam.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Blanket, unqualified condemnation of censorship promotes verbal and visual anarchy. 

Anarchy can work only in a society of perfect people. 

I have yet to learn of any such culture.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Artsy-Fartsies Upset over "Censorship"


Recap: One (1) display that displays intolerance toward the religious beliefs of many Americans gets pulled from a Smithsonian exihibit full of (debatably) pornographic displays; and we are supposed to feel threatened by this "censorship."

What does the above have to do with the Grant Applications and Philanthropic Revenue Streams LinkedIn forum on which it was posted? Let me rescue the author. If public reaction surprised the partnership -- that is, assuming the grant makers, the artists, and the Smithsonian did not intentionally bait the public -- the story illustrates a grant partnership that failed to recognize the environmental constraints of the project, undoubtedly due to the artistic fringe's insensitivity to, or disrespect for, the public.

Is this childishness hypocrisy or just faux indignation? Grown-up people get censored every day to protect the feelings of the Left. For example, I cannot fully expressing my opinion about the display's iconoclasm (to put it euphemistically) because it could cost me future employment. Do the artsy-fartsies think they have been censored? Awww, poor babies!

Is it "censorship" to refuse to force taxpayers to fund a venue for propagandists who have many alternate venues? Would it be "censorship" not to facilitate the violation of community standards of decency? Is it "censorship" to stop facilitating propaganda hostile to many citizens and to their religion?

If this is censorship, then at least some censorship is good.

Friday, October 22, 2010

I Hit a Deer

I hit a deer. I slowed to miss a fine, 3-prong buck. As he stopped on my right and turned to look back at me, I started out again. Suddenly, from my left, a doe trotted onto the road, only a few feet in front of my car, following the buck. I braked, but we collided. She tumbled into the dirt, but scrambled to her feet and ran away.

I saw no scrapes on the doe and my car shows no damage. But I learned that, where there's one deer, instead of focusing on it, I should look around for others.

And in life, when you avoid one danger, you should look around for other dangers.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Quote: Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. But to what degree?

Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. So goes a famous quote from an unknown source.

The quote incorrectly assumes an either-or, cause-effect relationship.

Luck is a pattern of circumstances that seem non-random. It is a pattern of values falling outside the expected limits.

Circumstances result from chance, previous circumstances, and choices that exercise partial control over the creation of future circumstances. Luck, therefore, is a seemingly non-random pattern resulting from unusual, random chance (coincidence), a lack of change to the circumstances, or control resulting from choices made.

Luck is an interpretation of current circumstances. Neither can be changed. Choice can be uneducated and driven by emotion, or it can be informed and considered. The quality of a choice (the selection of one option from two or more) can be controlled.

Since true coincidence is more likely to end than to continue, it disappears from the equation.

Two things result in a greater likelihood of "bad" luck: adverse circumstances and uneducated choices. Two things result in greater likelihood of "good" luck: favorable circumstances and educated, considered choices. Educated, considered choices can change circumstances or can prepare to expand the impact of advantageous circumstances when they occur.

We cannot control circumstances. Choice, however, influences future circumstances.

I disagree with the literal sense of Choice, not circumstances, determines your success. It ignores that success or lack thereof depends on both circumstances and on choices.

The quote also ignores the process of setting the goals that define success. We can choose either probably attainable goals, unrealistic goals, or no goals at all.

Circumstances set the most probable default outcome, but our choice of goals and our choice of actions to change or take advantage of circumstances influence the probability of success.

We are not responsible for circumstances' effects on our degree of success, but we are responsible for our choices' effects. Choose realistic goals that will define you as successful. Change the circumstances that you can. Prepare to take advantage of favorable circumstances.

We may receive from the hands of others the clay with which to create our victory cups; but the cups are ours to design and to shape.

For persons of faith, I will draw out another factor that I silently lumped in with circumstances, above. I believe in a personal, planning Creator. I don't believe in a universal fatalism, but I do believe that the Creator intervenes to bring about certain things.

Most of us set goals for ourselves first in this world, and after that for the next world. The Creator prioritizes goals for us first for the spiritual dimension, and after that for the physical world. If we don't achieve our goals, we must cut ourselves slack because we may have attained the Creator's greater goals without knowing it.

We who value the will of our Creator should strive to align our goals with what we know of the Creator's goals and to allow for unexpected ones. Victory cups of His making outshine any that we could ever design.

Copyright 2010, Richard Wheeler. Free to use for non-profit purposes.

Monday, August 30, 2010

If the Old Mainstream Is "Extremist," then I'm Happy to Be Extreme

Is it a coincidence that all the tea party candidates have overtly extreme outrageous policies?
It's hard to say which one of their whacked ideas is the most extreme because they're all up there. But Angle's "same sex couples should not be allowed to adopt children" is one of the wackiest. Talk about STEPPING on Americans "rights"! Pffft! And why does Mike Lee want to change the 14th amendment after it's been in PLACE all these CENTURIES?! That amendment, is how HIS ancestors from Europe or wherever, became citizens! And "REPUBLICANS wrote it back there in 1868! Talk about somebody not doing his homework!

"As part of Reconstruction, the first clause of 14th Amendment states "all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

It's a matter of perspective.

The tea party candidates' stands were mainstream a generation or two ago, and many of those positions remain mainstream. Like the Constitution, they have not changed. Political correctness, for example, has only forced approval (first it was tolerance, then it was acceptance; now it is approval, and next it will be affirmative action) of homosexuality during the last generation. Applying the label of extreme to the straight-parenthood lobby demonstrates a misinformed (or dishonest), extreme perspective. Moreover, for an extreme leftist to call a centrist position "extreme" adds hypocrisy to the previous faults.

The country has moved miles to the left since the 1960s. From the perspective of the left, therefore, those actually in the former center now appear to be on the right, and to those on the extreme left, those in the former center appear to be on the extreme right. This serves their purposes by grouping the center with the real extreme right. To those in the mainstream, however, opposition to adoption by homosexuals remains neither extreme nor wacky.

The left began using terms such as 'extreme' in order to demonize and marginalize the center-right. Such ad hominem attacks alleviate any need to deal honestly with the issue and to argue the unsupportable. They are intended to elicit over-reaction from opponents in order to discredit them. The are also intended to whip up often-violent fervor in their allies. Such verbal aggression has polarized the public, agitated emotional responses on both sides, and inhibited reasoned discussion. Hypocritically, the left is usually the first to protest against accurate labels such as liberal, radical, socialist, and Marxist.

The questioner states that Mike Lee's ancestors became citizens by virtue of the 14th Amendment, which granted citizenship to former slaves. Lee is Caucasian. What was that about doing one's homework?

Congress intended the 14th Amendment to prevent denying citizenship to former slaves, not to bestow citizenship on children of illegal aliens.

The author of the Citizenship Clause, Sen. Jacob M. Howard, stated..., 'This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the family of ambassadors, or foreign ministers....'

"In 1873, The United States Attorney General ruled the word "jurisdiction" under the 14th Amendment meant... 'absolute and complete jurisdiction.... Aliens, among whom are persons born here and naturalized abroad, dwelling or being in this country, are subject to the jurisdiction of the United States only to a limited extent.'" (Wikipedia)

Note that even though such persons were born in the US, they were considered aliens.

This did not change until United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649, in 1898, when the Supreme Court ruled that a child born to non-citizen parents legally and permanently in the US was a citizen. That still did not give birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens. (Wikipedia)

Even Native Americans, considered subjects of "Indian" nations, did not receive citizenship until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1884 (Elk v. Wilkins, 112 U.S. 94) that American Indians born in the United States could not claim citizenship because they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the US.

Birthright citizenship for illegal aliens today exists as a de facto practice without major legal precedent. Many falsely claim that 1982's case Plyler v. Doe conferred citizenship on children of trespassing aliens. Plyler v. Doe merely extended equal protection and required the states to provide free benefits to such children.

According to Congressional Research Service, "The courts apparently have never ruled on the specific issues of whether the native-born child of illegal aliens... may be a U.S. citizen."

Congress has responsibility to interpret "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" in order to enforce it. People like Mike Lee remaine completely within the legal and social mainstreams for wanting to refine the provisions of the 14th Amendment.

The original intent of the 14th Amendment clearly excluded children of legal aliens from citizenship. It therefore excluded the children of trespassing aliens. What the questioner claims has existed for "centuries" came about only recently.

The mainstream and historical positions of tea party candidates are extreme only to those on the extreme left, outrageous only to those with an un-American perspective, and 'whacked' only to those with fractured knowledge of history. The question is truly a case of the iron pot calling the stainless steel kettle 'black.'


Birthright citizenship

Precedent concerning citizenship for children of illegal aliens,0926-crs.pdf

1982's Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe (No. 80-1538)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Will there be sci-fi super nerds in Heaven?"

Randy Alcorn speculates on the questions,
  • Will there be sci-fi super nerds in Heaven? 
  • Will we all get together and build the Enterprise?
It should go without saying that being a Trekker has nothing to do with going to heaven, so long as you don't make an idol of it and the belief in ETs doesn't hinder faith in Christ as Savior. It also goes without saying that heaven's attractions such as the gates like pearl, the sea like glass, the great throne, the altar, the angels, the streets of gold, historical figures, meeting all our believing ancestors and dearly missed loved ones -- not to mention God Himself -- will, in comparison, relegate the sci-fi universe to irrelevance. However:

Foster-adoptive parents reared me, and I don't remember my birth mother. Were she still alive and were I to find her, I imagine that at our meeting, we would spend part of our time looking at her photo albums and at the works of her hands. Not that her job, arts and crafts, or photos of her trip to the Worlds Biggest Ball of Rubber Bands in Lauderhill, Florida, would be all that interesting, but they would tell me about her; they would share with me pieces of her life.

Heaven may be like that. I remember my dad (foster-adoptive) teaching me to build balsa wood, model airplanes. Living with our Father, we might spent a lot of eternity building models together -- maybe even functioning models of Constellation-class starships, Klingon warbirds, and X-wing fighters -- as He teaches us the correct science about interstellar travel, transporters, and light sabers. Naturally, we'll spend parts of eternity watching flashbacks of times He intervened in human lives and molded our characters, and of course, visiting the Universe's Biggest Ball of Burning Hydrogen.

And it will all be cool because we'll be doing those things with Him.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Overwhelming the System

This article needs to circulate widely. Please click the link to read the whole article. I disagree on a major point, however: Occupant Obama lacks the intelligence to master-mind the Cloward-Piven plan. The "Progressives" (meaning, progress towards international socialism) have refined the plan over the last century. Occupant Obama serves only as a script-reading figurehead.

Overwhelm the System WAYNE ALLYN ROOT

...Barach Obama... is purposely overwhelming the U.S. economy to create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos -- thereby destroying capitalism and our country from within.

...Add up the clues below. Taken individually they're alarming. Taken as a whole, it is a brilliant, Machiavellian game plan to turn the United States into a socialist/Marxist state with a permanent majority that desperately needs government for survival ... and can be counted on to always vote for bigger government....

* Universal health care... had everything to do with unionizing millions of hospital and health care workers, as well as adding 15,000 to 20,000 new IRS agents (who will join government employee unions)....

* Cap and trade.... has nothing to do with global warming. It has everything to do with redistribution of income, government control of the economy and a criminal payoff to Obama's biggest contributors....

* Make Puerto Rico a state... to add two new Democrat senators, five Democrat congressman and a million loyal Democratic voters who are dependent on big government.

* Legalize 12 million illegal immigrants... adds 12 million reliable new Democrat voters who can be counted on to support big government. Add another few trillion dollars in welfare, aid to dependent children, food stamps, free medical, education, tax credits for the poor, and eventually Social Security.

* Stimulus and bailouts... went to Democrat contributors, organizations (ACORN), and unions.... The country goes broke, future generations face a bleak future, but Obama, the Democrat Party, government, and the unions grow more powerful. The ends justify the means.

* ...Obama wants to dramatically raise taxes to starve his political opposition.

With the acts outlined above, Obama and his regime have created a vast and rapidly expanding constituency of voters dependent on big government; a vast privileged class of public employees who work for big government; and a government dedicated to destroying capitalism and installing themselves as socialist rulers by overwhelming the system....

Team Democrat is a gang of monetary drug dealers who want you hooked and dependent on them. Yes, half of the Republicans share the Democrats' "progressive" (that is, Marxist) goals and will bump the country over the edge, sending us to hell in a hand-basket; but Democrats will intentionally send us there on a greased firepole. I "vote the candidate," but a candidate who belongs to Team Democrat will never, ever, ever! get my vote.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: A Time To Dance

Expecting only the very best from Karen Kingsbury, I sat down to enjoy a pleasant read of her book "A Time To Dance." I did not find the very best, however. While her characters are realistic and her story is intriguing, the book goes on for too long without any progress. The story, which follows a couple as they put off a divorce for the sake of their daughter, who is getting married, is heartfelt and moving, but some readers may want to skip the majority of the book and go straight to the end. The plot is slow moving and makes for an even slower read, a boring read, at that. Only in the last quarter of the book do things get interesting enough to keep the reader's attention. That said, it's still a pleasant read overall. If you can get through the slow parts, you'll find yourself at a wonderful, inspirational ending.

I received a free copy of this book from in return for my honest review.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Interviews: Gaps in Your Knowledge

Sometimes interviewers want to know whether you meet minimum requirements, but sometimes they just want to know what bonus skills you might have that would give them greater flexibility or that might interest another hiring manager. addresses the best response when a hiring manager asks a question about an area in which you lack knowledge.

Margolin advises saving your time and theirs by answering plainly that you don't have that answer but have a plan to learn about that area. That's OK as far as it goes, but you need a bit more.

Use discernment about how hard to sell yourself. Are they asking you about required, desired, or non-advertised skills? Time pressure might force them to choose between candidates who meet 80% of the requirements, so your can-do answer may give you the edge.

A better answer...
  • admits that you don't have that knowledge
  • shows that you are interested in the topic
  • relates how you previously delivered value in a new area.
My first two bullets match Margolins' answer, although I generalize the point about interest. Having a plan is only one possible way to demonstrate interest. You might demonstrate interest by asking a question about the topic or by stating that you have studied it but not developed experience in it. My third point drives home your credibility with respect to the second point. It turns a dry, hypothetical answer into a concrete narrative.

For example,

"I haven't worked in [topic], but I enjoy reading about [related issues] and would LOVE to get my hands dirty in it. One time, my director needed someone to deal with [relevant topic], which none of the departments covered. My supervisor asked me if I could help, so I hit the internet and the library that night, and came back with a tutorial the next day that the director liked so much, he expanded our department's charter; and naturally, my boss put me in charge of it. I know you'll be pleased with how I can help you."

Obviously, you can't give long-winded answers like this if they ask about multiple knowledge areas you don't have.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Love on a Dime

I can't help but love a good story about a writer. After all, I'm a writer, myself. Therefore, Cara Lynn James' new novel "Love on a Dime," which follows a society lady named Lilly secretly writing dime novels with moral twists, had my attention from the very beginning. And it kept my attention, too.

While some of the dialogue was less than natural, the story, itself, kept me intrigued throughout, and the faith of the main characters felt natural. It took far too long for the final, inevitable result to come about, but Lilly's efforts to keep her identity a secret from her fans, her publisher (and former lover), and, most of all, her family, as well as her efforts to find a true love that will please her parents makes for a good novel that I highly recommend, especially to my fellow writers.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from in return for my honest review.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Writing: A Little Perspective Can Bring Out the Relevance

[Somebody tried to start the following off-topic discussion in a writers' group on LinkedIn, a social networking site organized by occupation. One writer responded, equally off-topic. Naturally, I just couldn't resist putting in my 200 cents.]

Original post: Heather Crouse
Executive Vice President at Ferrellok Life Sciences, LLC.

As a country, can we truly afford all of these outrageous bills the Obama Administration keeps pushing through?

The Obama Administration is constantly pushing bills costing billions and trillions of dollars. The last administration spent trillions on oil and war. Can we afford to keep borrowing money against ourselves?

Response: Grant Steen
Owner, Medical Communications Consultants, LLC

I dropped off the Ferrellok Life Sciences discussion group because this kind of useless political garbage kept popping up. Are you trying to trash another discussion group?

For the record, the Obama Administration was stuck with a broken country and a huge bill because George Bush tried to fight two wars while cutting taxes and deregulating industry. All of our problems right now are the result of moronic Republican policies. Get a grip!

Fifth Response: Richard M. Wheeler
Systems Engineer -- Available Now

Grant Steen, thank you SO MUCH for legitimizing Heather Crouse's off-topic message by turning it into a discussion.

For the record back at you, Mr. Genius: If Bush AND the Democrat House AND the Democrat Senate used our children as colateral, the Obama Administration hocked our grandchildren AND our great-grandchildren AND our great-great-grandchildren. Even Republicans pinched their noses when voting for Bush, so grip some perspective! You're smarter than to pass the buck with such a moronic, moral-equivalence-of-darts-and-bullets argment.

Heather Crouse, this is not the place, even if you're right. Better (and more relevantly phrased) questions to ask would include

o Besides watching only MFNBC, what is the best way to train for a lucrative and rewarding career at Czar Sunstein's Ministry of Information?

o How can writers stay motivated while writing laws that they know their bosses won't even bother to read?

o Can freelancers cash in on the boom in Democrat-media agit-prop?

o What is the best software for writing a 1,500-page bill to take over the rest of the economy?

o Is the Associated Press Style Guide the best reference when hiding subversive provisions in a reform bill?

o What great logician said, "You will never be... at the mercy... of a principled... uh... argument... uh... uh... when-you-can-come-back-with-a-tear-jerking-story"?

o How are writers enjoying the new Health Care Benefits that they are paying for?

See? You just have to put things in perspective.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Embracing Your Second Calling

"Embracing Your Second Calling: A Woman's Guide," by Dale Hanson Bourke, has plenty of insights to offer, even to a man. Bourke uses her own experiences and stories from the Bible to show that the older person can find purpose in the faithful life, focusing on God instead of on the highs of the past. The best is yet to come, and as long as you're alive, God can still use you.

As a younger person, I couldn't get into this book. I found myself wondering why I have to wait until later life to focus on God and my faith life. The sidebars, while helpful, proved distracting. I did, however, get something out of Bourke's use of the Bible to get her points across, and there's still a lot for the reader to learn, no matter what age.

Definitely a book I'll come back to when I've gotten a little older.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Nothing New about Blind Politicians

Reference: I Kings 20. For context, see
  • II Samuel 7
  • I Kings 11-12
  • start at I Kings 16:23 when you read chapter 20
God is pro-death penalty. In fact, God once pronounced the death penalty upon a politician when he made a treaty instead of executing a captured invader.

You can find more than one situation like this in the Bible, but today I focus on Ahab from my daily reading in I Kings 20. Ahab descended from a split and broken line of heretical politicians that started with Solomon.

All this rebellion, destruction, and death started with an interfaith marriage. King David had unified Israel and passed it along to his son Solomon in 1015 BC. We think the "fundamentalist" Mormon cults in the Rocky Mountain states are bad, but Solomon left them in the dust with his 700 wives and 300 concubines. God never explicitly judged anybody for having multiple wives -- perhaps He sees the resulting family conflicts as judgment enough. Polygamy -- more specifically, interfaith political marriages -- led to something far worse: apostacy, breaking up with God.

Solomon's wives, many being from other nations (one nation being Sidon) and other religions, convinced him to worship the gods of their homelands. I suppose a thousand of the most beautiful women in the known world could do that to the average guy. Way to man-up, Sol.

God responded to this spiritual adultery by filing for divorce. God could not remove Solomon from office because He had given His word to David that his son would sit on the throne after him. So the divorce came posthumously in -975 AD. Like a judge who gives the girls to the wife and the boys to the husband, God divided Israel.

Solomon's son Rehoboam got to keep the south while a rebel, Jeroboam, got to take the north. The area of one tribe, Judah, made up the south, while the areas of ten tribes made up the north. (The twelfth and priestly tribe of Levi dispersed among the other eleven tribes.) Naturally, Judah became known as... Judah; and the ten tribes got to keep the family name of Israel. In the successions of rulers, north and south, few learned their lessons.

Ahab had no excuse for not believing God. Ahab ("father's brother") grew up in the home of his idolatrous home of his father, but he also knew of the Torah and had exposure to the prophets of God. As we approach I Kings 20, we find three events that should have convinced anybody:
  1. He had lived through a drought that the prophet Elijah had declared (I Kings 17:1).
  2. In a competition between 850 prophets of idols and one prophet of God, he had seen Elijah pray down fire from God to devour water-drenched sacrifices (18:17-39).
  3. He saw the drought end per Elijah's declaration (18:41-45).
But Ahab perfectly illustrated Jesus' saying, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Luke 16:31)

When Ahab married Jezebel, he followed Solomon's error by marrying into the family of the King of Sidon, the capitol of Phoenicia. Ahab had grown up in a house that worshipped foreign gods with fornication and sodomy among their sacraments. Mr. and Mrs. Ahab and Jezebel, however, topped this. They added Baal-worship with its sacrament of infant sacrifice to Israel's sins.

According to I Kings 19:1, after the second and third events listed above, Ahab went home and told Jezebel about the signs God had shown. Jezebel responded by putting out a hit on Elijah. Considering that Ahab had converted once for love's sake, what might have happened if Jezebel had said, "Surely, the Lord is God!" like all the witnesses to the fire did?

Wives, don't underestimate your influence over your husbands. Behind every succussful man is.... Well, if you can make 'em, you can break 'em, too. He may one day give account for his leadership, but you will one day account for how you used your influence.

Meanwhile, back in today's reading (chapter 20), King Ahab finds himself quivering in his fortress as King Ben-Hadad ("son of Hadad," the Syrian sun-god) musters the army of Syria outside.

First Ben-Hadad orders Ahab to surrender all his silver, gold, wives, and children. Ahab agrees to comply.

Don't pretend shock. You already know that he practices infant sacrifice. In accordance with custom, Ben-Hadad would probably take the wives for his own and send the children to the best Syrian academies to eventually represent him in the conquered territory of Israel. With wives like Jezebel, Ahab probably thought he got the better end of that bargain. And winding up in the house of a mighty king like Ben-Hadad, Jezebel probably thought she was getting the better deal, too. It was a win-win-win.

However, Ben-Hadad changes the deal. He orders Ahab to let his soldiers pillage the city. Now, surrendering his money and his family is OK with Ahab, but surrendering his favorite stuff went just too dern far! Ahab ends the parleigh saying, "Let not one who puts on [as in donning armor for battle] boast like the one who takes [as in removing armor after successful battle]." In other words, don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

The king had put his foot in it. As shown in verse 14, he had no idea how he would defend against Ben-Hadad. God sends a prophet to Ahab to tell him that God will deliver the enemy into his hand, that Ahab may know that God is God.

At the prophet's direction, Ahab musters his little army of 7,000 men and marches out of the city to face Ben-Hadad's army of over 127,000. (How do I get that number? Ben-Hadad returned the following year with an equal number (vs. 24-25). More on that, later.)

In this battle, every Israelite "killed his man," so that's at least 7,000 Syrian foot soldiers. Then Ahab led an attack against Ben-Hadad's chariots, "and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter." Ben-Hadad and his army flee.

Things start to look up for Ahab. God fights on his side. Maybe he will start turning to God.

After the first battle, the prophet warns Ahab, get ready because they'll be back! Sure enough, spring comes and the prophecy holds true. Ben-Hadad returns, but with a new strategy.

The Syrian tacticians decide that the loss happened because God is a hillbilly. That's what you get when your tacticians worship heathen gods. Actually, chariots don't work well in hills country like that around Ahab's capital, and Israel's capitol gives them the high ground, so moving the battle to a plain makes a lot of sense. Once again, Ben-Hadad has vastly overwhelming numerical superiority. Enjoy the word picture:
Now the children of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the counrtyside.
Military (or religious) tactics and numerical superiority do not stop God, however. A prophet tells Ahab,
Thus says the LORD: Because the Syrians have said, "The LORD is God of the hills, but He is not God of the valleys," therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.
The battle begins. The little army of Israel kills 100,000 foot soldiers (vs. 29), the rest flee, and God kills another 27,000 in an "accident" (vs. 30). That's where I got the 127,000 for the first battle.

Ahab has seen miracle after miracle. Do you think maybe this trip from doom to miraculous victory would crack open Ahab's heart? Not a chance. When Israel captures Ben-Hadad, he and Uncle Ahab call each other "brother" and make a treaty. 127,000 men dead and they just walk away.

God hates false religions and false gods to which people give honor that belongs to Him alone. False gods keep people condemned and separated from God. God delivers into Ahab's hands the ruler of a region that God had once given to Israel, a man that oppresses Israel, a man with the conceit to call himself the son of a god, a man who insults God... and Ahab lets him go.

A prophet calls him on it, saying,
Thus says the LORD: Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.
God signed Ben-Hadad's death warrant and Ahab failed to execute the sentence. Doing so, Ahab signed his own death warrant.

Of all the lessons in I Kings 20, this one stands out to me tonight: One day, our judges, the politicians who appointed them -- and the people who elected the politicians -- will answer to God for the murderers, rapists, and traitors they allowed to live and even released to repeat their crimes. The jurisdiction to exact justice lies with God, not us. But, whether in this life or in the next, they will pay.

Copyright Richard Wheeler 2010. Permission granted for personal or non-profit use.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Review: How Should A Christian Live

I really should stop reviewing books and devotionals aimed at younger audiences. "How Should A Christian Live," a devotional for teenagers, is yet another example of an easy to understand yet lacking in depth read. Even as a teenager, I longed for something deeper than this. Maybe I'm alone in that, but I've always thought that Christians, no matter how young or old, should desire the deepest possible relationship with God. Plus, is the Bible really meant to be entirely easy to understand? Isn't that why we have the Holy Spirit to help us understand?

Anyway, back to my review. "How Should A Christian Live" has some great material, although entirely cliche material that I've heard many times before. It's organized with short sections within sections including definitions, Get It, Grab It, Hold It, Live It, and Give It, as well as several word games that are there just for fun. I suppose the games would hold a younger person's attention and get them to actually read some verses, but the games seemed pointless, boring, and easy to me. The devotional also includes a CD with select scripture readings on it. Unfortunately, my copy wouldn't work (there goes another star in my rating).

So, overall, this devotional makes a good read for its targeted younger audience, excluding a younger me. I'll give it 3 out of 5 stars for that.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Review: Chronological Guide to the Bible

True to its title, "Chronological Guide to the Bible" goes through Biblical events in chronological order, providing historical insight and background. Unfortunately, rearranging things to fit a historical order makes for a confusing format. The book's cover claims it "works with any translation," but with its confusing format and lack of organization, readers will find it difficult to look up the many suggested passages or navigate their way through the book when looking for specific events.

Divided into nine epochs, the book includes book summaries and outlines, time lines, maps, reading guides, and random side bars (if you can even call them that). Colored pictures and informational facts make the read a bit easier, but the overall layout is too random and has too much white space.

That said, "Chronological Guide to the Bible" still makes an interesting reference book if the reader is willing to wade into the book and find its hidden gems. If the reader has time, he may also read the book straight through, which allows the book to flow more easily.

I received a free copy of this book from in return for my honest review.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Review: "Kaleidoscope" by Patsy Clairmont

Leave it to Patsy Clairmont to create a book with a cover as cute as she is, a length as tiny as she is, and chapters as short as she is.

Beautiful cover and all, Kaleidoscope fails to connect. Chapters, each based on a single verse from Proverbs, come across as devotional stories. While one or two chapters may hit individual readers hard, most readers will have to either dig deep or read only one chapter per day/week and truly commit to thinking as hard as Winnie the Pooh to get something out of this book.

Mind you, the stories Clairmont tells are delightfully funny, but that doesn’t compensate for lack of depth in the Word. I have yet to read a book by a Women of Faith Speaker that truly dives into God’s Word. Some pointless questions and a few verses to reflect on after each chapter are the closest Clairmont comes to covering readers with the water of the Word of God.

On the bright side, she does bring some clear understanding to a few confusing proverbs, but, as lovely as its cover is, Kaleidoscope does not “find inspiring reflections of the divine that bring clarity to our world.”

*Quote from the book jacket’s description.

Book Summary:

Acclaimed author and Women of Faith speaker Patsy Clairmont causes womens' hearts to leap and their hopes to lift in this quirky, straight-to-the point look at the Proverbs.
Understanding the Christian life and the Bible can be a daunting task. But maybe God didn't mean it to be so hard. In Kaleidoscope of Proverbs, Patsy Clairmont pieces together some powerful messages from God and reveals new facets of beauty, inspiration, and instruction. Written for busy women, Patsy offers brief, powerful chapters that address the key aspects of their lives, hearts, and relationships.
In the Proverbs, God gives us small gems of hope and truth, and in Kaleidoscope of Proverbs, Patsy Clairmont unveils them for readers with her trademark humor and insightful teaching.

* I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Problem of Emotional Conversions

Biblical Salvation
Evangelist John Nordstrom
AAA Ministries:  Gospel Sowing to Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime

Biblical salvation becomes a reality when three components of the human body become interactively engaged: The mind, the heart, and the will (Romans 6:17). The gospel sower initiates the process of regeneration by delivering the doctrine of salvation into the prospect's intellect. The sower who dares pass beyond his jurisdiction and tries to also manipulate the heart, goes too far. The heart’s inner sanctum, is reserved for God alone. Truth delivered by the sower becomes a hammer in the hand of God, breaking down the fortified walls of the heart (Jeremiah 23:29). The final outcome is man’s will yielding to God’s will. True salvation takes place in the heart, not the intellect. It takes place after God has done his convicting work and not without it. God is the soul winner, not man (1 Corinthians 3:7).

There is nothing a gospel sower can do to cause the prospect to mean business with God.  The sower must focus on giving a correct gospel in an understandable way. The rest is up to God and the individual. When they die, their sincerity is between them and God.

I agree with much in the letter, but not with all. It draws a picture of intellect, heart, and will, to the exclusion of the spirit. This picture shows God pounding on the heart and the will, but ignores God giving life to the spirit and understanding to the intellect. Any Calvinist would offer tons of Scripture references that tear the letter to shreds.  (By the way, in interest of full disclosure, I triangulate somewhere above and between Arminians on my far left and Calvinists on my not-so-far right.)

Before I go on, I should point out that, while God ultimately wins souls, God delegates the privilege and duty of engaging in soul winning to believers. Somewhere, the Old Testament says, "he that wins souls is wise." Soul winning is a partnership between God and his ambassadors -- us. True soul winners give the glory to God and will one day cast their bejeweled crowns before His feet; yet it is God who places those jewels in their crowns and calls them soul winners. Therefore, I'm not following the false modesty of abandoning the term.

People sometimes claim to have had a head conversion without a heart conversion. The letter says that True salvation takes place in the heart, not the intellect.  This is false.  Both the intellect and the heart must be involved -- and the spirit, too. More often, I think, people have heart conversions without head conversions (especially in Charismatic circles). Perhaps legalistic sects such as Catholicism have will conversions without either head or heart conversions. (I'm not sure we should isolate "the will" as a separate function like intellect and heart. I think of it more as a verb -- to will -- resulting from the majority vote of the intellect, the heart, and the spirit.) The letter implies that people can even have head, heart, and will conversions based on the gospel and the emotional appeal of the soul winner, but accomplished without the work of the Spirit. Examples might include Judas in the gospels and Simon the Sorcerer in Acts.

The letter does not imply that an emotional appeal excludes the work of the Spirit. It is possible for God to quicken the sinner's spirit even if the gospel presenter includes an emotional appeal.

What a frustrating idea, that a fraction of those converted through emotional appeals are saved, and the rest are not. Between the intrusion of the world into the church and its saturation with unconverted souls, it becomes no wonder that "Christians" stand so undifferentiated from their neighbors. I must think, however, that all those false conversions represent a great lessening of coals upon those souls' heads and a great preservation of the societies in which they live.

On the other hand, might there be people who whose decision or act of will as a result of emotional appeal lead to greater things? Could the gospel with a God-prepared spirit result in an authentic conversion that lacks devotional energy because the soul winner left the person to cross the threshold alone? If we all did all things because we had the right information and the work of the Spirit upon our spirits, when would we need exhortation, encouragement, and provocation? Why would Paul and John have included such emotional appeals in their epistles? I conclude that the soul winner needs wisdom, caution, and balance (as do we all), since scriptures do not preclude the use of emotional appeal along with the preaching of the gospel.

What disadvantages do we find in false conversions? One is that false converts besmear the name of Christ when they stumble or fall away. The banner held high by remaining true converts ought to restore Christ's honor, but that brings us to the real danger. When false converts wander off, they discourage us. We feel betrayed because we put more trust in each other than we do in God. Sometimes, after times of failure, we question our own conversions because we know that things like what we did have also led to the revelation of others' false conversions. It hurts, especially when you were the person who "led them to the Lord." You wonder what you did wrong when, in truth, false conversions happen regardless of the soul winners' methods.

So we look for reasons why. In some churches that use strong emotional appeals, it's easy to blame the emotional appeal. We might conclude that all emotional appeals are wrong because the work on the heart and the will belong to God. That's an unreasonable extreme. Banning the emotional appeals makes about as much sense as banning the teaching of the gospel. After all, head-without-heart conversions are just as doomed as are heart-without-head conversions; and when false converts fall away, it hurts us just as much either way. What comes next, ban both the attempt to make the gospel plain and the attempt to appeal to the heart?

The first half of the answer lies in the wisdom to find appropriate proportions of intellectual and emotional appeals. At the same time, I'd like to acknowledge that God makes us with unique capacities. Some personalities have no capacity for emotional appeal, and it would be a mistake to force them to conduct altar calls with two dozens verses of Just as I Am at every service. Other personalities have little capacity for intellectual appeal. Let each man serve according to his gifts without rejecting others' gifts.

The second half lies in a wise response when false converts fall away. Some "false" converts are weak or misled believers who will later return, or they are believers whom God will call home prematurely for the preservation of their souls. A soul winner who judges such converts "false" takes on needless disappointment. Our disappointment indicates trust due God but misplaced in man and, even worse, in ourselves. Aside from sanctions prescribed by the Bible, we should leave judgment to God who alone sees our hearts.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Review: Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts

"Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts" makes a great resource for any person with a desire for a deeper study of God's Word. The book, complete with maps, photos, and outlines, would make a great textbook for most Bible courses, especially classes that overview either the Old Testament or Old Testament or classes that focus on the geography of the Bible.

While the reference book doesn't include as much geographic background as it could, it does exactly what it's title promise: It delivers easy-to-understand maps and charts. Each chapter covers a specific book of the Bible and includes resources such as outlines of the book, maps of geographical locations in the book, and information on the author, date, themes, and literary structure of the book. Depending on the book being covered, the chapter may include more details on the book, as well.

The majority of the material appears in the Old Testament sections, so, the book could use some more extensive coverage on New Testament books. Then again, the shorter the book covered, the shorter the coverage. That makes enough sense. Still, while "Nelson's Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts" provides plenty of simple material that lays the Bible out clearly, it's not a deep theological explanation of books. Its book introductions could come right out of a teen's study Bible. Ultimately, the book makes a great companion for a Bible class or the study of the Bible, but doesn't stand completely on its own. It has its use, but it is much like a lot of other sources on the market.

I received a free copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Unemployment's Real Scope and Its Denied Contributing Causes

Despite improvement in unemployment rate, America’s workforce remains ill-prepared to compete with the world

Julian L. Alssid 
Posted on Workforce Developments web site by Bronwyn Mauldin on February 08, 2010

The unemployment rate fell below 10 percent in January to 9.7 percent. While this is positive news and a sign the stimulus may be kicking in, the mismatch between employer needs and the education and skills of much of the workforce remains.  (Click on the link above for the whole article.)

Starting with the media-friendly, official unemployment rate trend draws a false picture because its salient point is a decline, whereas we are left in the dark regarding the real trend that includes the discouraged and the underemployed.  Although Julian Alssid explains that the published rate is not the real rate, he fails to identify the trend of the "real" rate.

Tangent notes:
  • I suspect that the "discouraged" include those who are not really discouraged, but rather have fallen under the radar because they have depleted their UIB.  I wonder, does it include black market employment such as undocumented of illegal immigrants?  And does it exclude full-time students?
  • The trend of the unemployment rate also misleads if it includes growth in government.  A true stimulus must stimulate the economy as reflected by private employment.  Growth in government, such as hiring people to man new bureaucracies and to take the census, can mask the effects of stimulus legislation with false indicators of success.  Alssid's speculation that a declining unemployment rate is, therefore, unjustified.
I also suspect that we're missing a significant factor that contributes to the vocational education gap: the balkanization of our population.  Two major in-your-face groups live in my area.  Many in the urban Black subculture suffer an entitlement mentality and a set of fears (some legitimate, some self-prophetic) that encourage division and discouragement.  The resulting dialects and counter-cultural behavior (such as wearing the fashions of violent gangs) cause further isolation, friction, and hindrance to vocational success.

On the government's side, we continue to emphasize divisive affirmative action when we ought to moved on toward voluntary (not forced) integration and reconciliation.  (As one unintended consequence, White males not otherwise inclined to racism can easily react to being shoved aside in favor of those "less qualified" often react with bitterness and discouragement.)  Such attitudes and divisiveness can form insurmountable hindrances to gaining the knowledge and skill needed for success.

The other hard-to-miss subculture (actually, a group of subcultures) consists of a mixture of legal, illegal, temporary, and loophole immigrants (e.g., the "anchor baby" phenomenon), isolated by language barriers and many of the same problems that hold back the urban Black subculture.  Most legal immigrants commit to integrating into the culture at large.  They provide valuable contributions to our country.  Many, especially those who come via non-legal ways, however, make no such commitment.  Fear of immigration police, intention to return home, familial roles, and for Latinos, ancestral claim to the American Southwest, reinforce social barriers that isolate them from better education and vocational success.

Since the recent collapse of the lending and housing bubbles, news about current immigration trends has become scarce; but before that, the trend was rapidly upward.  The trade-offs between the benefits of having a diverse population and the cost, in divisiveness, self-imposed repression, and resultant social costs such as crime and dependency on the tax-payer, of providing incentives and protection for illegal immigration point to major flaws in the political left's platform.

The majority culture deserves much blame.  Parents lay the foundation for education with their examples, their values, and the quality of learning environment that they provide for their children.  Government usurps too much responsibility and too many parents willingly surrender it.  The mechanisms range from government's role as an enabler of broken homes to its hostility toward parental involvement and traditional values.  Ironically, our culture takes blame upon itself that it ought to address to the people and subcultures that exacerbate the problems.  (That is, we deserve blame because we excuse self-defeating behavior by blaming ourselves too much.)

We need to identify the true scope of unemployment and set aside our fears (for example, my fear of being called a racist for what I've said here) of identifying the causes.  We won't make substantial and permanent progress until we face the problem honestly and determine to move beyond our sympathies and resentments.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review: "Seaside Letters" by Denise Hunter

Don’t you just love it when a book keeps you up all night? I’m not usually one to stay up late reading a Christian romance; it’s not exactly the most suspenseful genre. Last night, however, I couldn’t sleep. I was too busy reading Denis Hunter’s “Seaside Letters.”

Hunter takes the age-old “pen pal” story and makes it her own with waitress Sabrina and her customer, Tucker. Sabrina suffers from a lack of confidence because her fiance broke up with her six days before their wedding. An online relationship seems like the only safe relationship. That relationship is put in jeopardy, however, when Sabrina finds out Tucker’s her man... and he wants her to help him find his secret pen pal. Little does she know that Tucker invented the relationship as a way to break down her barriers and to get to know her. Now, Sabrina must invent a way to keep Tucker from discovering the full truth, a truth from her past that could ruin both her pen pal and her real-life relationship with Tucker.

Hunter makes the classic “You’ve Got Mail” story and makes it her own with lovable characters and surprising plot twists. Above all, she touches the heart with her message that true beauty is found in the heart. Hunter’s writing, while not descriptive, is compelling. She keeps the reader in suspense to the very end, revealing tid bits of important information as she goes along.

The thing I love most about Christian romances is that there’s always a character with a history that inhibits her from having confidence and taking on a new relationship. Hunter’s “Seaside Letters” follows this formula to a “T,” using her characters to show the unending love of God. It’s a beautiful story.

I received this book to review for free from Thomas Nelson as a member of the Book Review Bloggers program. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Could NAZI Germany Happen in America?

Ever wonder how a modern, sophisticated, Christian nation could birth the Nazi movement and allow themselves to be led by an Adolf Hitler? Could that ever happen here and now?
-- David Hanneke, Letters, Modesto Bee, 20 Jan. 2010

The Wiemar Republic -- Pre-NAZI Germany -- epitomized the modern, sophisticated nation, but it also epitomized the secular, post-Christian nation.  America follows dangerously close to Germany's footsteps.

Germany rejected Christianity in the mid-1800s, led by "scholars" who elevated materialist philosophy over the Bible. Declaring modern philosophy greater than Divine revelation, they believed the serpent's rhetorical question, "Yea, hath God said?" and ate the apple, planting the seeds that sprang up as the works of Marx, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, Catholic and Black Liberation Theologies... and yes, today's leaders of the Democratic Party.

Hitler's personal beliefs were closer to occultism or the New Age movement. Germany's national rejection of Christianity left a hole. Hitler filled that hole by building the NAZI cult upon an abandoned religion, Arianism.

Anyone who calls pre-fascist Germany or Hitler "Christian" has a huge hole in their knowledge of history. Only America's Judeo-Christian core has hindered her descent down the path Germany followed.

America's multicultural population would never accept a racist cult like Hitler's, but we are struggling to resist accepting Nazism's secular, neo-Marxist brother, Progressivism.