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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sunspots 614

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:



Christianity: Christianity Today reports on a survey, which indicates that all major religious groups, except evangelicals, are more well-liked than they were a few years ago.

A Christianity Today writer tells us how boring church services changed his life, for the good.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware lists the best Android Apps.

Gizmo's also rates the best free media players.

Education: (and History, and Humor) Listverse describes 10 absent-minded professors.

Health: (sickness, in this case) Relevant reports that sexual exploitation of children, including on-line abuse, is a major industry in the Philippines.

Humor: (or something) Listverse reports on 10 things that humans have seen only once. Events related to astronomy, warfare, and medicine, and more, are included.

Literature: E. Stephen Burnett on how to resurrect Christian fiction.

Science: National Public Radio reports that the deepest oceans are deeply polluted.

Nature reports that perhaps we have discovered a new continent: Zealandia.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 36

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of "Impressions from Above" continues:

Unless it is a settled question with us that we will follow God's guidance when it is clearly revealed, at any cost, we can never know it, but will be a prey of impressions from below.

I heard a minister say that there had been times when he would pray for light on certain subjects, and then get up and hurry away lest he would get an answer that he would not like. Such seekers arise from their knees but to stumble on in darkness.

We must not only "commit our ways" unto God, but also the time and manner of them. "God," says an eminent minister, "not only requires us to obey and serve Him, but to obey and serve Him in His own time and way. In the eye of God voluntary disobedience in the manner of a thing, is the same as disobedience in the thing itself."

He who consents to obey God, but seeks to dictate the time of so doing, is as unwise as a blacksmith that would hammer the iron either before it is heated or after it cools off instead of when it is hot and flexible. Had Joshua dictated as to the time and manner of taking Jericho, Israel doubtless would have been defeated, and his own name have sunk into oblivion. For transgression in the manner of obedience, Moses was debarred from the promised land.

God said to David: "When thou hearest the sound of a going in the tops of the mulberry trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself: for then shall the Lord go out before thee, to smite the Philistines."

There is a mighty significance in the two "thens" in the preceding paragraph. "THEN thou shalt bestir thyself, for THEN shalt the Lord go out before thee."

Confusion ever comes to all who say now when God says "tomorrow," and who say "tomorrow" when God says "now."


Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Sunspots 613

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:




Christianity: Relevant on avoiding the Gospel of Comfort.

A Washington Post columnist on what the Bible says about immigration. (Some Christian leaders say it has nothing to do with that subject!)


Food: Relevant says that Valentine candy may be supporting exploitation of the poor in other parts of the world.

Health: The National Gardening Association has posted a Garden Planting Calendar. You enter your location.

Scientific American reports that being affected by a traffic jam makes it more likely that you will engage in domestic violence.

History: Scientific American points out that people of African descent, including women other than those shown in Hidden Figures, have been part of space exploration for decades.

Humor: (not really) ListVerse reports on why we are afraid of clowns.


Politics: FiveThirtyEight points out that raising the minimum wage usually doesn't affect waitresses and other workers who depend on tips.

Relevant reports that Amnesty International claims that 17,000 people have been wrongfully put to death in Syria, by the court system, from 2011-2015.

FiveThirtyEight discusses four types of constitutional crisis, with examples.

Science: National Public Radio reports that scientists have begun using DNA that wild pigs leave behind, to find out where they live, so that they can be destroyed. They are serious pests.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 35

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of "Impressions from Above" continues:

There must be a belief that God will make His guidance known. "If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him, but let him ask in faith nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord." -- Jos. 1: 6-8.

Unbelief in God's ability and promises to guide will leave the soul like a ship at sea with no helm and at the mercy of wind and waves.

There must be complete commitment to God. Hence it is written: "Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him and He shall bring it to pass." Any mental reservation in the commitment will
deaden the discerning of the divine voice.

Spurgeon said: "Brethren, I can testify for my God that when I have submitted my will to His directing Spirit, I have always had reason to thank Him for His wise counsel. But when I have asked at His hands, having already made up my own mind, I have had my own way; but like as He fed the Israelites with quails from heaven, while the meat was yet in their mouth, the wrath of God came upon them."

He who employs a physician or attorney puts the case fully in their hands and follows their directions. Jesus is the soul's great Physician, and the lost man's lawyer. Infinite in wisdom and in love, the most timid soul need not fear to commit itself unreservedly to Him. Any shrinking here may cost what is worth more than worlds. The soul must be like a ship sailing under sealed orders unrevokably committed to execute the orders when opened, no matter what they are. It is God's to direct; ours to execute. We are accountable only for the execution; He for the results.


Praise His name!

Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Sunspots 612

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


Christianity: A Relevant writer says that our prayers probably should be simpler.

In Christianity Today, a short discussion of addiction to pornography, and how prevalent it is.

Morgan Busse repeats some classic, and needed, guidelines on what to say, or not.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports on a Chrome browser extension that searches your Internet cache. In other words, it looks in what you've already looked at, rather than the entire web. Should be a big help in finding things you only partly remember, that you've already seen.

Google has made 819 typefaces available for free. One catch -- you can't download these to your computer, and use them in, say, Word. They are designed to be added to part or all of a web page.

Gizmo's also notes that a new version of Libre Office, a freeware substitute for Microsoft Office, is available for download.

Health: Scientific American reports that the dust mites that you may be allergic to cannot survive in a dry area, like, say, Arizona or Utah.

History: Listverse reports on 10 amazing items (or groups of items) of considerable value found with a metal detector.

Philosophy: Scientific American reports on research that shows that most people think that they are morally superior to others.


Politics: (And the environment) The Guardian reports that a house bill would, if adopted as law, sell a chunk of public land "as large as Connecticut." Please don't.

FiveThirtyEight on how Judge Gorsuch (if confirmed) and additional Supreme Court Justices appointed by President Trump might change previous decisions, such as Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton.

Listverse discusses 10 problems with where and how we get our news. And "fake news" is on the list, but it's not the only problem.

Science: Scientific American discusses "strategic retreat" from rising bodies of water, caused by climate change.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 34

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion continues:

CHAPTER VII
IMPRESSIONS FROM ABOVE -- CONDITIONS OF BEING LED BY THEM

In order to be at one's best for detecting impressions from below, and being led by those from above, the following conditions must be met:

Conversion. The unregenerated heart is a camera prepared for impressions from below, and it receives them as greedily as the parched earth drinks in a shower. It has no affinity for those from above, but resolutely repels them. All of its telegraph wires are manipulated by the enemy, and it is with great difficulty that its King can reach it with a message. Of such it is truly said: "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and be converted, and I should heal them." Conversion opens the spiritual eyes and ears, and enables to discern the spirits whether they be of God.

Purity. Inbred sin in the heart of the believer is a great hindrance to being divinely led. It is like dust in the eye which pains and blinds it; like wax in the ear which deadens the hearing.

"After you are sanctified," says Dr. Watson, "the devil comes up to you and hunts all around and says: 'Where is my instrument gone? I could run my fingers over the carnal mind and play a tune in this man's soul.' He finds no wire in your soul to pull on now. He used to pull on your judgment and reason and carnal nature, but that is all gone and he finds nothing but Christ.

"When the devil finds out he has no territory in you. he gets mad, flings off his coat, and begins to blaspheme. He will say: 'You have professed holiness, and you know you haven't it.' You never know how plainly the devil can talk to you until you are sanctified. Before he could run into the back door of your heart and pull the wires; but after you are sanctified the devil has got to fight you on the outside. He will come to your face and tell you you are not sanctified, and you know it! He will threaten you with falling; he will talk to you intellectually, and pronounce words in your mind.

"Before we are sanctified the method of the devil is to work in Christian people through their carnal mind without letting them know it is the devil. He will come to Christian men, to Christian women, Christian ministers, good people who are endeavoring to serve God, and are on the way to heaven; he will work his plans and purposes upon them by using their carnal mind, and so work that they think it is their wisdom. The devil will come to an unsanctified Christian who is converted, and will put a certain idea into his mind or heart, and he will say: 'Now, isn't that wise, isn't that prudent,
isn't that cautious?' Thus he will work on their prudential motives, on their reason, and on their carnal fears. He will work on their man-fearing spirit; he will work on their worldly policy and their worldly wisdom, making a playground upon their carnal mind.

"Now, mark you, he has no possession of God's children, but he will annoy them and disturb them and hinder them. They are doing ten thousand things in which they do not dream they are doing the devil's work. The devil goes to Christian people and gets them to have a church theatrical. He wouldn't dare have them start a regular theater with all the accessories, but he goes and works on their worldly policy and their worldly mind, so that when they have got these things up, church members do not know they are doing the devil's work. They say: "We are doing this to raise money for our church. It is laudable.' They think they are right. They simply are doing the devil's work by the devil's suggestions, only the devil is hiding himself, and laughing at them all the while."

If, then, we would be at our best to detect the impressions which are continually coming to us, we, having our hearts "purified by faith," must be cleansed from inbred sin.

George Muller says: "Only maintain an upright heart. But if you live in sin, if you willfully and habitually do things which you know to be contrary to the will of God, then you can not expect to be heard by Him. 'If I regard iniquity in my heart the Lord will not hear me."'


Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Sheerah: a female builder in ancient Israel

1 Chronicles 7:24 His daughter was Sheerah, who built Beth Horon the lower and the upper, and Uzzen Sheerah.

I'm not clear on who "His" represents. Perhaps Ephraim, the son of Joseph, who was founder, with his wife or wives, of one of the more important tribes of Israel. Perhaps a member of that tribe. A couple of commentaries consulted were not helpful on that point.

The remarkable thing is that there was a woman, Sheerah, who is given credit for building three cities in ancient Israel. I confess that I had never noticed this, as I usually whiz over the "begats" as quickly as my conscience will let me. But there are interesting things in those chapters of 1 Chronicles, and God knew and loved every person mentioned in them.

Did Sheerah physically build these cities, stone by stone? Or did she finance the building? Or did she cause her family (and maybe friends) to do the building? The Bible doesn't say. However, note Nehemiah 3:12 Next to him, Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters, made repairs. From the context, it appears that the daughters of Shallum, much later in Israel's history, physically worked on repairing the wall of Jerusalem. Perhaps Sheerah built some walls from scratch.

In any case, Sheerah was influential in the building of three towns in ancient Israel, in spite of the subservient role of women in that society at that time.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Sunspots 611


Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Christianity: Sojourners is not happy with efforts to slow down, or restrict, the entry of refugees to the US. Christianity Today has a related post and another one.

And Benjamin L. Corey reminds us, with scripture, that being hospitable to strangers (including refugees) is a heaven or hell issue.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware has published an annotated list of the best free software to protect your system.

Food: Listverse reports on 10 foods made from poop, vomit or spit.

History: Scientific American gives brief biographies of the three African-American women that the current movie, Hidden Figures, is mostly about.

Listverse tells us about ways in which colors had (and still do) significance.

Humor: (sort of) Listverse tells us the answers to questions we might have had about 10 movies.

Politics: Scientific American reports that the National Park Service is resisting efforts by the Trump administration to stop its communications through social media. Other government agencies related to science have also been silenced, or have been asked to be less communicative.

Science: National Public Radio has an essay on science and facts.

Scientific American reports on why and how LSD works.



Image source (public domain)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 33

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion continues:

4. Inspired Aspirations. There is a heaven-born aspiration in the heart of every truly converted person to be divinely led.

Without such leading there is a deep sense of inability to solve life's problems and meet its perplexities.

All other human needs are met and satisfied in Jesus, and this one is no exception.

For guilt there is provided pardon.
For pollution, purity.
For weakness, power.
For spiritual hunger, the Bread of Life.
For spiritual thirst, the Water of Life.
For spiritual sickness, a great Physician.
For spiritual poverty, an eternal inheritance.
For spiritual guidance, divine wisdom.

God creates the desire to receive this wisdom because He has made provision to give it, and the very fact that He inspires it is a token that He has it to give. God does not create desires in men to mock them with fruitless longings, but because He loves to supply their every need, and has planned so to do. This reason, combined with those before mentioned, shows conclusively our privilege in all things to avail ourselves of the services of a mighty Counselor. His unerring eye will lead us in the way that we should go. With Him enthroned within, neither poverty nor distance need keep us from His counsels, nor from knowing and doing His will.

In the light of the four-fold testimony given there remains not a shadow of doubt as to God's ability and willingness to lead all who will follow His instructions. Glorious privilege! The conditions upon which it may be realized are simple, plain and important, and will be noticed further on.

"He leadeth me! oh! blessed thought,
Oh! words with heav'nly comfort fraught;
Whate'er I do, where'er I be,
Still 'tis God's hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me! He leadeth me!
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

"Sometimes 'mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden's bowers bloom,
By waters still, o'er troubled sea, --
Still 'tis His hand that leadeth me.

"Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine --
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since 'tis my God that leadeth me.

"And when my task on earth is done,
When, by Thy grace the victory's won,
E'en death's cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me."


Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Treatment of aliens/strangers in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy

Exodus 22:21 “You shall not wrong an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:9 “You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Leviticus 19:10 You shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the foreigner. I am the Yahweh your God. (This command is repeated in other parts of the Bible.)
Leviticus 19:33 “‘If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.
Deuteronomy 10:19 Therefore love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.


The Bible also says, in reference to a specific refugee crisis:
Isaiah 16:3 Give counsel! Execute justice! Make your shade like the night in the middle of the noonday! Hide the outcasts! Don’t betray the fugitive! 4a Let my outcasts dwell with you! As for Moab, be a hiding place for him from the face of the destroyer.

The Moabites hadn't always been good to Israel. See Joshua 24:9, Judges 3:12-30, and 1 Samuel 12:9.

And, of course, there's always the Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.


(World English Bible, public domain.)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Hellfire for not helping others

Matthew 25:37 “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’
40 “The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’
45 “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (World English Bible, public domain.)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Counting the people

2 Samuel 24:2 The king said to Joab the captain of the army, who was with him, “Now go back and forth through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and count the people, that I may know the sum of the people.”
Joab said to the king, “Now may Yahweh your God add to the people, however many they may be, one hundred times; and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king delight in this thing?”
Notwithstanding, the king’s word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the army. Joab and the captains of the army went out from the presence of the king to count the people of Israel.
10 David’s heart struck him after he had counted the people. David said to Yahweh, “I have sinned greatly in that which I have done. But now, Yahweh, put away, I beg you, the iniquity of your servant; for I have done very foolishly.”


10-13. David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned--The act of numbering the people was not in itself sinful; for Moses did it by the express authority of God. But David acted not only independently of such order or sanction, but from motives unworthy of the delegated king of Israel; from pride and vainglory; from self-confidence and distrust of God; and, above all, from ambitious designs of conquest, in furtherance of which he was determined to force the people into military service, and to ascertain whether he could muster an army sufficient for the magnitude of the enterprises he contemplated. (Excerpt from commentary on 2 Samuel 24, by Robert Jamieson, public domain. Source is here.)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Sunspots 610

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:


The Arts: A 1 minute, 46 second video of popcorn kernels popping.

Christianity: Russia has recently clamped down on evangelical (and other) religious activity, according to Relevant.

Christianity Today points out that Cardinal Dolan's reading, at the Trump inauguration, was from the Apocrypha.

Christianity Today reports that the abortion rate in the US has hit an all-time low.


Computing: WordCounter counts the number of words in entered text (you can copy text in from a document). It also gives the number of sentences, the reading level, and other statistics.

Education: Something called the Matthew 25 Declaration on public education.

Humor: (or something) Listverse posts little-known facts about some classic TV shows. (One such fact -- the person who invented the re-run.)

Listverse also posted about 10 "epic typos" in history. Amusing, unless you were affected.


Politics: Politico reports on British espionage in the US, prior to World War II. The British were trying to influence the US election, hoping that this would bring the US into the war against Germany. Does this remind you of anything?

The New York Times reports on fake news, but with a twist. The researchers made up news stories that were never published at all, and, when asked, some people claimed that they had seen these stories, and believed them.

Science: Scientific American reports on a huge wave in the atmosphere of Venus.



Image source (public domain)

Monday, January 23, 2017

John Piper on Mr. Trump: morally unqualified, but he's President

John Piper posted, on inauguration day, a good article on Mr. Trump. He claims, first, that the 45th President of the US is morally unqualified for the job. Particulars:

He has openly bragged about committing adultery.
He has mocked others, such as prisoners of war (John McCain, for one) and disabled people.
Some of his ventures, such as Trump University, were a type of con game.
He's more of a demagogue than one who seriously discusses issues.
He's proud, and lies about his accomplishments, saying that he has never done anything that needed forgiveness (!), and that no one reads the Bible more than he does.

Piper goes on to describe some necessary qualifications and characteristics of a good leader, most of which Mr. Trump does not display.

But -- he is now the President of the US, and we need to live like he is that. One way to do so is to pray for him. One thing to pray for, says Piper (he mentions others) is for Mr. Trump to be led to repentance.

Thanks for reading. Read Piper.