What do King Solomon and the Antichrist have in common?

Go to 1 Kings 10:14 (or 2 Chronicles 9:14).  Now compare that to Revelation 13:18.  King Solomon’s salary for one year is the same as the Number of the Beast.  I don’t know what you do with that, but this is a trivia question.

I caution you to avoid getting caught up in who the Antichrist is.  Remember that anything that distracts your attention from God is not going to help your walk.  We won’t be here when Antichrist is revealed.  2 Thessalonians 2 will give you the broad overview of the endgame.

  1. There will be a “falling away” or apostasy. People will increasingly stop believing in Christ.  I think we’re headed in that direction now.
  2. The restrainer will stop restraining. Many conservative scholars see this as the Rapture of the Church.  The church isn’t the restrainer, but the Spirit is, and all believers are indwelled by the Spirit.
  3. THEN the Antichrist will be revealed.

So don’t get wound up with bar codes, pin numbers, or other theories about the meaning of 666.  That’s the number of a man, namely the Son of Perdition, the Beast spoken of in Revelation, the Idol Shepherd.  (He’s got something on the order of three dozen or so titles in the Bible.)  Instead, focus on Christ and advancing the kingdom by doing whatever work God has for you.

City of Refuge, Episode 5: Unexpected Encounter

Episode 5: Unexpected Encounter

Jer shook his head and stepped back from the cab. “Thanks anyway.”

“Suit yourself, mister.” The driver tapped a button on his dashboard and the door swung closed.

A quick look down the block in both directions confirmed what Jer already knew. He’d talked to all the taxi drivers. The cheapest rate had been the cost of two week’s supplies for a ride in a cab that smelled of old tobacco, which was only marginally better than the ambient air

Jer tugged a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it over his mouth and nose. Looks like I’ll be walking this time.

Normally he wouldn’t have minded. The shortest trip was only a few blocks, but with his gimpy leg acting up and air that smelled worse than a caged skunk in a sewer, a ride would have been much nicer.

“Throw hay bales in one pile and wishes in the other and see which one get the tallest,” he muttered.

That was one of Pa’s favorite sayings whenever one of them got to belly-achin’ about what needed to be done.

Jer sighed and recalled the shortest map path on the map in the courthouse. With his back to the building, he got his bearings then started off to the left.

Many of the locals he passed walked hunched over. Their clothes were serviceable but plain, and the looks on their faces resembled their clothes. They went about their business without making eye contact. Most were silent, and the few who weren’t grumbled incoherently as they moved along. Although the majority of inhabitants either breathed through a cloth like him or used nothing at all, a scattering had some sort of breathing device that fit in their noses like a plastic moustache. Whether it actually filtered the air, got rid or masked the stench, or just made a fashion statement, Jer couldn’t say. The folks he saw with them didn’t look like they’d be up for an interview.

He turned his attention from the people to the environment. The area near the courthouse was in relatively decent repair. Buildings were clean and well maintained even if the people looked more like the most destitute of a major city’s homeless population. What sort of intelligence lurked behind the tired, lonely expressions? How many were doctors, engineers, or scientists stuck here because of an accusation? How many were parents separated from their children? All of them waited for the death of the High Priest, which signaled an automatic pardon to all Shechem’s temporary residents.

Two blocks away from the courthouse the scenery changed as abruptly as flipping a switch. The people all shared the same drab appearance and joyless demeanor, but the buildings around him changed from clean and orderly to pockmarked stone, broken windows, and graffiti.

Jer’s stomach turned as he began to consider whether forgoing the cab would prove a mite wise and a shekel foolish. What good would it do him to save money on the cab fare only to get mugged or killed when while walking?

He dismissed his fears as foolishness. No one was even looking at him, and the hangar was only a couple more blocks away.

When Jer turned the corner, the sight of the hangar buoyed his spirits. He grimaced and adjusted the grip on his cane as he renewed his speed.

A man stepped out of a shadowed doorway and blocked Jer’s path. When Jer stepped aside, the man moved with him.

“Excuse me,”Jer moved the other way.

The man blocked the path again and another moved up behind.

Tension radiated down Jer’s back from his shoulders. “Now look, fellas, I ain’t carryin’ much of value, and I don’t want trouble.”

“Hand over what you got, and there won’t be trouble.”

Jer gripped the head of his cane more tightly. They didn’t know who they were messing with, but they might have friends, more than Jer could deal with.


Nahum was watching out the transport’s window as the ship entered the Jebus system. A yellow-white main sequence star herded only a few planets. The two outer gas giants in the system might provide an interesting mining opportunity or two, but that would have to wait until they got the boss out of his current jam. He should have left the mess with Dave Baruch alone, but get a pretty girl involved and the boss’ wits went lightyears away.

Vashti tapped his arm and leaned closer. “Your plan account for Ol’ Man Baruch being in Theopolis somewhere?”

Nahum rolled his eyes. “Four billion people on this planet and you’re worried about running into one old man? You this paranoid all the time?”

“Just wondering how far you thought this out is all.” Vashti shrugged. “If this were as easy as you make it out to be, why hasn’t it been done already?”

“Because people like you jump to the conclusion it can’t be done!” He squinted at her. “Go home if you’d rather.”

Vashti snorted. “Oh no. I’m dying to see you pull off this caper.”

The transport captain came on the PA. “Prepare for landing.”

Nahum leaned back in his seat and closed his eyes as the ship rumbled through re-entry burn and settled on its gear scant minutes later. The ship had no sooner touched down than most of the passengers were on their feet, rooting through bins for their carry-on luggage, and shuffling for the exit.

Nahum stayed still. No sense herding like cattle through a gate. Five minutes later the line cleared and Nahum and Vashti collected their things before disembarking.

The spaceport wasn’t as crowded as Nahum had hoped for. Crowds offered a form of anonymity, a way to get lost from security cameras. Maybe Vashti was right. Maybe this would be harder than he thought.

Someone grabbed Nahum’s arm and spun him around. He jerked free and stepped back.

Old Man Baruch beamed a huge smile. “Well, if it ain’t Nahum Rotenberg and Vashti Osgood. Didn’t expect to see you here. What brings you to Theopolis?”


  1. Should Jer talk his way out or fight his way out or hand over whatever he’s carrying?
  2. Nahum and Vashti need a cover story. What do you think they should use?

U Is for Adoption

Not quite a decade ago, I was binge-watching a DVD collection of The Lone Ranger, the version that came out from 1949-1957 with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. My brain, being as weird as it is, wondered what might have happened if one of the main characters and the bad guys had been aliens. As I started hashing out the details of the plot and characters, I realized it was sounding far too much like a bad fanfic of The Lone Ranger, so I decided to change the setting. One problem: For the plotline to work, humans could not have high tech widgetry. Even today’s ubiquitous handheld computer gadgets would throw a wrench into the works, so I cast about a time before ever-present computers but after the Wild West. Right about then, I was watching Adam-12 and Emergency! while grading papers every night. Bingo! The tech level was pretty much what I needed. I picked 1965 in a South Texas town I made up.

About 5 years ago, I wrote the short story and called it “Wind Herding” because of a line used by the two main characters to describe their situation. Over the next several years, the short story mutated and expanded and now it’s two books, the first of which, Urushalon: Like Herding the Wind, is due out from PDMI Publishing soon.

The alien race, the Eshuvani, are physically stronger than humans but emotionally more fragile. They have been on Earth since their generation ship crashed in Germany in the 1600s, but the Eshuvani tried to keep to themselves so humans could develop their culture and technology at an appropriate rate. From time to time, a human and Eshuvani form a special adoption relationship. The two involved are called “urushalon.” … So that’s why U is for Adoption. Here’s the back cover blurb for the forthcoming book.

Matt Ostrom did the cover art. This is a preliminary sketch of the Eshuvani aircraft called an "avicopter."

Matt Ostrom did the cover art. This is his preliminary sketch of the Eshuvani aircraft called an “avicopter.”

In the 1600s, an Eshuvani generation ship crash-landed in a farmer’s field in Germany. Unable to find the resources on Earth to fix their ship, the Eshuvani built enclaves and tried to let the humans develop without interference.

Three hundred fifty years later, Eshuvani criminals start a crime wave in the Texas coastal town of Las Palomas. With police officers being injured and killed in the efforts to stop them, Sergeant Ed Osborn attempts to use his ties to the Eshuvani community to get help for his men, but the local leadership wants nothing to do with humans. Ed contacts his urushalon, Amaya Ulonya, the Eshuvani mother he adopted when he was a boy, and seeks her help.

After the death of her partner, Amaya, the captain of a police and rescue team, finds more grief than joy in her current assignment. Amidst controversy, she arranges to spearhead the new Buffer Zone station between Las Palomas and the nearby Eshuvani enclave of Woran Oldue. She hopes the opportunity to help Ed train his people will help her bury the past. The indifference of the local administration leaves her with Ill-functioning equipment and inexperienced staff. It only gets worse when the attacks of an Eshuvani criminal grow personal.

Amaya must get control of her grief to help Las Palomas or risk losing someone even more dear to her than her last partner.

Next time, V is for Health

The First Worldwide Dictator

Nimrod (Genesis 10:8).  You know him for his astrological building project called The Tower of Babel.  His territory started in what became Babylon.  In fact the Tower of Babel is how the region got its name. Some scholars suggest that the translation about Nimrod being a mighty hunter before the Lord should actually read “… in the face of the Lord.”  In other words, Nimrod was not a godly guy.  In fact, his name means “Rebellion.”  Idolatry began in Babylon and will ultimately end there.

T Is for Details

I taught elementary for 14 years. Overall, it’s not an experience I would wish on anyone. I have gone into great detail about why in other posts, so I won’t bore you with another rant about the current education system and its many, many faults.

You might think that I had no bright points in the nearly a decade and a half I stayed in the profession, but that wouldn’t be quite right, either. Even in the worst years, when half of my class was seriously behaviorally challenged or when the paperwork load meant I was getting fewer than 4 hours of sleep each night just to keep up, there were some great kids. I had kids who stood up to bullies, and kids who protected their classmates from the violent kids in the class, and kids who just knew how to make someone’s day.

Others were amazing for other reasons. Some of the students I taught knew the most incredible minutiae about their favorite topics, the kind of trivia that only shows up in Final Jeopardy during major championship matches. The minor details, the tiniest trivia… they knew that. That’s why T is for Details.

I’ve been friends since junior high with a guy who fit that mode. He had a learning disability or two. Math was not his friend, and reading could be a challenge sometimes. Because he didn’t have the kind of smarts that count in school, some of our peers considered him to be below average intelligence. Boy, were they wrong.

He has a fantastic imagination. The ideas for stories that he came up with were incredible, and I turned many of them into short stories. In a large part, I became more serious about my writing in high school so I could do justice to some of the nifty ideas he came up with.

That’s not all, though. The man is a walking encyclopedia of military aircraft. What do you want to know? Max speed of an F-14? No problem. Available firepower for an A-10? Easier than breathing. Just ask. He has it covered.

(c) 2011 UK Ministry of Defense // Retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons and used unchanged Photographer: SAC Simon Armstrong Image 45153149.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk

(c) 2011 UK Ministry of Defense // Retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons and used unchanged
Photographer: SAC Simon Armstrong
Image 45153149.jpg from http://www.defenceimages.mod.uk

I ran into kids like my friend when I was teaching, too. No, they weren’t all a walking, talking version of Jane’s, but they had their expert subjects. Rather than lament that they could name all 150 Pokémon along with their attacks, defenses, and evolution pathways but barely spelled their own names, the trick was to find ways to channel that incredible interest and that knowledge into skills that would later transfer to other subjects as they grew older.

Next time, U is for Adoption.

Rejected Offerings

We read in Genesis 4 about Cain and Abel’s offerings.  Abel’s was accepted, but Cain’s was not.  Have you ever wondered how Cain knew his offering was rejected?

Look at some of the other examples of offerings that were accepted.

In Judges 13:20, Samson’s parents gave an offering to the Angel of the Lord, Christ, after hearing about the birth of Samson coming soon.  Fire flew up from the altar toward heaven, taking the offering and the Angel with it.

Then there’s the extraordinary account of Elijah on Mount Carmel.  In 1 Kings 18:20-38, we see the account of Elijah and the 450 priests of Baal.  In verse 38, fire comes down from heaven and takes the offering.

Now check out 1 Chronicles 21:25-26.  David had ordered a census to be taken.  Any time a census was done, each man was to pay a ransom or a plague would come up on the people.  Well, David didn’t take up the collection when he ordered the census so a plague came.  God stopped the plague at the threshing floor owned by Ornan (or Arunah).  David bought the site and set up a burnt offering.  Fire came from heaven and took the offering.

Solomon also had a similar experience in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3.  He was dedicating the brand new Temple in Jerusalem and had just ended a prayer when fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifices.

Apparently, early on, fire came from heaven and zapped the offering.  If fire had come down from heaven to take Abel’s offering but not Cain’s, Cain would have known right away that his offering had been rejected.

That doesn’t happen these days, which is probably a good thing. Offering plates in churches everywhere would get zapped every week.