The Hooker, The Bakker, The Promised Land Taker

The Hooker, the Bakker, the Promised Land Taker

You’ve heard the saying that well behaved women rarely make history. Today I was reminded of this as we visited Jericho … the oldest city in the world, well, what’s left of it.

She emerged from the heavy cast bronze doors amidst a sea of reporters. In the forefront local Charlotte news investigative reporter Chris Clackum, who’d been avidly following the story for years, stated that her husband had been sentenced to federal prison . The painted lady broke into song at the top of her lungs right there on the steps of the federal courthouse: “On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.” If you were in Charlotte, NC in October, 1988, then you’ll know I’m referring to the unmistakable Tammy Faye Bakker. The same Tammy Faye who’d been the butt of jokes around the Carolinas, if not the nation, for overdressing, and definitely over primping—make up galore! I’ll never forget the “I ran into Tammy Faye” t-shirts.

Who knows why Tammy Faye followed Jim Bakker all the way through the rise and fall of the PTL empire? Many of my FB friends grew up with me in Huntingtown Farms immediately adjacent to the first PTL property. Buddy, Dawn, Reid, Cameron, David, Doug, Gary, Frank, Lisa, Kim: we all remember PTL’s stately, imposing Georgian mansion. Accordingly to neighborhood kid folklore it was haunted. It still stands just off of Park Road on the property Forest Hill Church now calls home.

The Old Testament chronicles Joshua’s quest to continue Moses’ journey to get the Hebrews to the promised land. It was when they hit Jericho, the mighty walled city, that they needed, once again, to rely on God. But it was here at the world’s oldest City that God’s servant happened to be a woman practicing the world’s oldest profession. Enter: Rahab.

These piles of rubble are what remain of Jericho. Here Rahab’s home was built into the walls. Scripture records that she served God by hiding Joshua’s spies from the King. In return, she and her family were spared when Joshua’s armies marched around the City blowing their trumpets causing the walls to fall to offer the Hebrews safe passage.

Archeological evidence shows little evidence to support what the book of Joshua records. However, this is not the point. I’ll leave that for scientists and Theologians to debate. Daddy always says “who am I to let the facts stand in the way of a good story?” I can tell you this; the American Ambassador’s Fund is paying for the excavations here (political neutrality on my part practiced here). The research work began in Jericho in 1952, just a few short years after the formal establishment of the State of Israel. The tallest peak in this first image is the venerated place of Christ’s temptation in the Judean Wilderness known here as the Mount of Temptation. There is a monastery at the tip top.

(It is commonly agreed based on the finds, studies, and discovery of agricultural techniques that Jericho is the oldest developed city on earth. What you see here is simply ruins in a National Park managed by the Israelis Antiquities Authority, but the modern town is a resort area where people from places in Israel escaped to during colder times of the year).

As someone I know and deeply respect frequently says: You don’t know what you don’t know. It applies to the two women I’ve mentioned here: Tammy Faye & Rahab.

Who knows what Mrs. Bakker’s purpose was to serve and how, in the end, her life’s will fit into the ever unfolding puzzle of God’s story. I simply cannot imagine.

A lesson we learn from Rahab is that God often uses the most unlikely people. Sometimes He uses the least, the lost & the last – the weakest, the most down trodden, the most unlikely to serve His purposes. If not for Rahab and her willingness to serve, Joshua may not have conquered Jericho to move forward into the Promised Land. I believe God uses whom He wants when He wants and where He wants us. It also makes me realize, alternatively, that there is truth to the philosophy “To whom much is given, much is expected.” (This predates Peter Parker by generations for all you Spider-Man fans). This blog is dedicated to a man, a leader, and a friend to many.

On January 2nd our Charlotte, NC Boy Scout Troop 118 lost it’s founding Scout master and leader for nearly 45 years, Stephen Pace (pictured above in our T118 traditional Pace purple). One could write volumes about this man’s approach to leadership, family life, Christian living, citizenship, parenting and business ethics. Suffice it to say, unlike most people, Mr. Pace spent his life investing in people. The foundations he built will live on through the 192 Eagle Scouts born of Troop 118, the the neighborhoods developed through his business, through deep and true friendships, and the amazing and accomplished family he nurtured during his life. I thought of Mr. Pace today observing Jericho and remembered he built his house’s foundation on rock. The scripture that says:

Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

As I gazed upon this pile of rocks…10,000 years old I am reminded that like Tammy Faye sang out loud (who am I to question her)…. a little dramatically I must admit…that God is the Rock, He is the foundation, and on Him we can stand. My friend, Stephen believed this. Every word spoken at his memorial reflected that His life shone this light.

It’s quite strange, but true: two painted women, an Old Testament warrior, Joshua, who led the Hebrews to the promised land and the remains of this oldest of cities made me think today about my sons’ scout master and how deeply I respect his life’s work and how solid a foundation he built in people’s lives. That we may all be so inspired.

Final thoughts: We saw some of the most unbelievable desert in the Judean Wilderness; our camel’s name is Shu-Shu. We floated in the Dead Sea, and spent quite a bit of time at The Old City (walled city). Here are some views of the remainder of the day.

(This is Victor. He’s been my guide both trips here. He is an exceptional guy. Prayer group guys: I’ve got 2 videos, 1 of him explaining some things from Capernaum, for our May group).

(Some of the other tour members in our group.)

This is the Western Wall / Wailing Wall…most people recognize it. I’ll have a special final post about this place on our final day).

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