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Sunday, May 31, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 35

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

To see what this childlike living is, in which childlike asking and believing have their ground, we have only to notice what our Lord teaches in the Sermon on the Mount of the Father and His children.  In it the prayer-promises are imbedded in the life-precepts; the two are inseparable.  They form one whole; and He alone can count on the fulfilment of the promise, who accepts too all that the Lord has connected with it.  It is as if in speaking the word, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive,’ He says: I give these promises to those whom in the beatitudes I have pictured in their childlike poverty and purity, and of whom I have said, ‘They shall be called the children of God’ (Matt. v. 3-9):  to children, who ‘let your light shine before men, so that they may glorify your Father in heaven:’  to those who walk in love, ‘that ye may be children of your Father which is in heaven,’ and who seek to be perfect ‘even as your Father in heaven is perfect’ (v. 45):  to those whose fasting and praying and almsgiving (vi. 1-18) is not before men, but ‘before your Father which seeth in secret;’ who forgive ‘even as your Father forgiveth you’ (vi. 15); who trust the heavenly Father in all earthly need, seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (vi. 26-32); who not only say, Lord, Lord, but do the will of my Father which is in heaven (vii. 21).  Such are the children of the Father, and such is the life in the Father’s love and service; in such a child-life answered prayers are certain and abundant.


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Sunspots 782


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


The Arts: CNN, and other outlets, report that Crayola will be releasing a "Colors of the World" crayon pack, which attempts to show all of the human skin colors.

Christianity: Christianity Today tells us why the Ascension of Christ was and is important.

Ravi Zacharias, India-born world-wide Christian apologist, passed away, from cancer, on May 19, 2020.

Environment: Gizmodo says that the temperature  was more than 80 degrees F above the Arctic Circle.

Finance: FiveThirtyEight on giving financial aid to the states.

Food: (sort of) Gizmodo reports on a device designed to be touched by the tongue. The user has the sensations she would have, if she were actually tasting something.

Politics: NPR reports that President Trump is claiming that absentee ballots encourage fraud, and that fraud is against Republicans. A number of Republicans, who are in charge of the elections in their states, disagree with him.

NPR fact checks a letter from President Trump to the World Health Organization, and finds it is almost all based on misinformation.

FiveThirtyEight discusses misinformation about COVID-19, in social media. Much such misinformation is put out by bots - automated accounts, perhaps funded by Russia, in an attempt to sow discord in the US.

FiveThirtyEight also points out that state polls are really more important than national ones, because of the way the electoral college works, and assesses the accuracy of state polls. They're pretty accurate -- not perfect, though.

Relevant reports on Twitter insinuations by President Trump, that an employee of a media person he doesn't like was murdered by that media person. With no evidence.

Science: NPR reports that scientists have discovered balls of moss, roughly the size of a baseball, on ice in Alaska. They move -- slowly, and in groups, and they can last for years.


Gizmodo reports that some of us are going to be hearing cicadas in these days. Over a million in an acre, the article says.


The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 34

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

And what is the true child-life?  The answer can be found in any home.  The child that by preference forsakes the father’s house, that finds no pleasure in the presence and love and obedience of the father, and still thinks to ask and obtain what he will, will surely be disappointed.  On the contrary, he to whom the intercourse and will and honour and love of the father are the joy of his life, will find that it is the father’s joy to grant his requests. 

Scripture says, ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the children of God:’ the childlike privilege of asking all is inseparable from the childlike life under the leading of the Spirit.  He that gives himself to be led by the Spirit in his life, will be led by Him in his prayers too.  And he will find that Fatherlike giving is the Divine response to childlike living. 


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sunspots 781


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


Christianity: Christianity Today reports that the Gideons are changing their emphasis from Bible distribution to evangelism.

Christianity Today also reports that Q, a supposedly Christian organization, is promoting non-standard "cures" for COVID-19.

Relevant discusses a survey on how long pastors, and listeners, think a sermon has lasted.

Christianity Today reprints advice from Martin Luther on fleeing from a disaster, such as an epidemic.

Ravi Zacharias, India-born world-wide Christian apologist, passed away, from cancer, on May 19, 2020.

Education: As of two years ago, the salaries of college graduates, by specialty. Philosophy and Art History weren't so bad.


Environment: Gizmodo reports that the Arctic is experiencing record heat (for the Arctic) which is bad news for the world.

Humor: Under recent circumstances, it's been tempting to do some projects at home. NPR reports on three of them that didn't go quite as expected.


Politics: FactCheck examines President Trump's claim that the US and Germany have the lowest COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people of any nation in the world, and finds it to be seriously false.

Science: Jupiter's moon, Europa, emits plumes of water from time to time. It, and its sister satellite, Enceladus, may be able to support life as we know it. Report in Gizmodo.

Gizmodo also has posted really old film footage of a Tasmanian Tiger.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

Thanks for looking!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Creation Unfolding by Ken Coulson

I recently read Creation Unfolding: A New Perspective on Ex Nihilo (available to read free to Kindle Unlimited members) by Ken Coulson.

It was an interesting book, and I'm glad I read it.

Coulson is a Young-earth creationist (YEC). He is a geologist, not a biologist. The book says very little about biology, nor, of course, about evolution. The author has researched his subject thoroughly, except that he doesn't deal with the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2. He takes both chapters as if they were meant to be literal, history-like descriptions.

How is Coulson different from many other YECs? I point out three significant ways.

First, he doesn't believe that nature, general revelation, was meant to reveal God as creator. He puts it this way:
In 1 Corinthians 1:21 (ESV), Paul makes God’s design abundantly clear: “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” The world is not allowed to come to know the God of creation by pursuing its own wisdom (e.g., through scientific endeavor). This is by God’s sovereign design.

Coulson goes on to say that, if God had wanted to make His creativity indubitably clear, He could have stamped each child born with a stamp proclaiming this. He doesn't say so, but perhaps, if Coulson had thought of this, he might have said that cloud formations could have said "made by God," in the language appropriate to each area of the world.

There are YECers, and other Christians, who would argue that Psalm 19 and Romans 1 tell us that God has revealed Himself though His creation, and holds us responsible for understanding that. Statements like this are made: "Look at the retina of the eye. (or some other natural wonder) How marvelous it is! You should believe in the God who created it!"

The picture at the top of this post, quoting Hebrews 11:3, indicates that we understand God's creative power through faith, and that perhaps those without faith cannot grasp this.

Second,  here's what he has to say about the Flood:
The Flood of Noah was a real, world-wide watery catastrophe. As such, geological evidence should exist that supports this catastrophe. Many YEC, however, have overstepped the line here by proposing that almost all the world’s sedimentary layers were deposited in the Flood. To think otherwise is sometimes viewed sacrilegiously. Now, it may be that nearly all the Earth’s geological layers were in fact deposited during Noah’s Flood, but there is nothing in Scripture that demands this. For all we know, the entire Flood record could extend to a single geological package of strata that represents a single geological period.

Not may YECers would agree with that.

Third, Coulson introduces a concept, and a term, that, as far as I know, is his, er, creation.

The term is Supernatural Formative Process(es) (SFP) which acronym is abundant throughout the book. For example: "In other words, although Adam’s bones and Eden’s trees would suggest processes leading to real histories, those processes and histories, as with those of the crust’s first crystals, are only apparent." In other words, Coulson argues that the earth, and the surrounding universe, only appear to be billions of years old, because God changed the rates of natural processes. And,

For example, if all rates everywhere in the universe were doubled, the participant would not notice this doubling unless there existed an unaltered rate that could serve as a frame of reference (Poythress 2019, p. 221). I propose that God has provided this frame of reference in the refrain that occurs at the end of each creative day: “And there was evening and there was morning.” This would mean that except for the rhythm of night and day, all other rhythms were accelerated in a time-lapse fashion.

So SPF are "natural" processes, which may be accelerated by God, and, if appropriate, kept in synchrony with other such processes, because the rates of each are sped up proportionally.

Coulson discusses several events, some biblical (like the water being transformed into wine in John 3) and some not so (the discovery of SN1987A, a supernova that looks like the light from it started heading toward us a long time before 6000 BC.)

Although Coulson claims that an appearance of age is not God being deceptive, because God altered various rates of processes, it's hard for me, after reading the book, to accept any Appearance of Age concept without thinking that God has unnecessarily hidden what He has done, and maybe is even being deceptive. God, of course, could have modified all sorts of rates, maybe even all of them except night and day, and presented us with an earth that is, actually, only a few thousand years old, in a universe that is also only a few thousand years old, regardless of their appearance. But did He? I don't think so. Perhaps I'm wrong.

It seems to me, and to many others, in the present, and in the history of the church, that most YECers, including Coulson, are starting from wrong presuppositions, namely that the days of Genesis 1 were consecutive 24-hour days, and that the Bible teaches that the earth, and the universe, were created in about 6000 BC. Many Christians, of the present and the past, believe that the first part of Genesis was not meant to be interpreted in a literal fashion. It is easier for me to believe that it was not so meant, than to believe that God adjusted all sorts of geophysical, chemical, astronomical and biological processes.

For some discussion of the interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2, see here.

There's also this simple graphic:


Which, I believe, shows that Genesis 1 and 2 cannot both (or either) taken literally.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 33

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

‘Or what man is there of you, who, if his son ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?’—Matt. vii. 9-11

IN these words our Lord proceeds further to confirm what He had said of the certainty of an answer to prayer.  To remove all doubt, and show us on what sure ground His promise rests, He appeals to what every one has seen and experienced here on earth.  We are all children, and know what we expected of our fathers.  We are fathers, or continually see them; and everywhere we look upon it as the most natural thing there can be, for a father to hear his child.  And the Lord asks us to look up from earthly parents, of whom the best are but evil, and to calculate HOW MUCH MORE the heavenly Father will give good gifts to them that ask Him.  Jesus would lead us up to see, that as much greater as God is than sinful man, so much greater our assurance ought to be that He will more surely than any earthly father grant our childlike petitions.  As much greater as God is than man, so much surer is it that prayer will be heard with the Father in heaven than with a father on earth. As simple and intelligible as this parable is, so deep and spiritual is the teaching it contains.  The Lord would remind us that the prayer of a child owes its influence entirely to the relation in which he stands to the parent.  The prayer can exert that influence only when the child is really living in that relationship, in the home, in the love, in the service of the Father.  The power of the promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you,’ lies in the loving relationship between us as children and the Father in heaven; when we live and walk in that relationship, the prayer of faith and its answer will be the natural result.  And so the lesson we have today in the school of prayer is this:  Live as a child of God, then you will be able to pray as a child, and as a child you will most assuredly be heard.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Sunspots 780


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

Christianity: BioLogos discusses "Christian" conspiracy theories, about COVID-19.

Education: Grammarphobia tells us why we say "fourteen," instead of "onety-four."

Grammarphobia also gives us the history of the words "butt" and "buttock," and explains their relationship.
Health: CNN asks what things will be like if we don't develop a COVID-19 vaccine, and reminds us that there are some serious infectious diseases without vaccines, and not for lack of trying. (Think AIDS, for one.)

Gizmodo points out that taking temperatures is not a fool-proof way of checking for COVID-19 infection.



You may (or may not) have seen the Plandemic video. Here is a documented story from lifehacker debunking it, and another from  National Public Radio, doing the same. Here is a report from the Snopes web site.

Politics: (or something) FiveThirtyEight says that the recent jobs report, bad as it is, doesn't really cover all the people who are out of work.

Gizmodo reports that there is considerable overlap between COVID-19 misinformation and climate change denial.

Sixty Minutes reports that the Trump administration terminated a virus research grant for no good reason.

FiveThirtyEight has studied voting by mail, and finds considerable variety in how it's used. There's no particular advantage to either party.

Science: NPR reports that a black hole, about 1,000 light-years away, has been found.

The Ryugu asteroid has been photographed from very close, like on the asteroid, and the results are remarkable.

Sports: Gizmodo reports on a basketball backboard and hoop that adjusts its position so that almost all shots go through the hoop.

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.
Thanks for looking!

Sunday, May 10, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 32

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

O Lord Jesus!  teach me to understand and believe what Thou hast now promised me. It is not hid from Thee, O my Lord, with what reasonings my heart seeks to satisfy itself, when no answer comes.  There is the thought that my prayer is not in harmony with the Father’s secret counsel; that there is perhaps something better Thou wouldest give me; or that prayer as fellowship with God is blessing enough without an answer.  And yet, my blessed Lord, I find in Thy teaching on prayer that Thou didst not speak of these things, but didst say so plainly, that prayer may and must expect an answer.  Thou dost assure us that this is the fellowship of a child with the Father:  the child asks and the Father gives.


Blessed Lord!  Thy words are faithful and true.  It must be, because I pray amiss, that my experience of answered prayer is not clearer.  It must be, because I live too little in the Spirit, that my prayer is too little in the Spirit, and that the power for the prayer of faith is wanting.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Sunday, May 03, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 31

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

How deep the estrangement of our heart from God must be, that we find it so difficult to grasp such promises.  Even while we accept the words and believe their truth, the faith of the heart, that fully has them and rejoices in them, comes so slowly.  It is because our spiritual life is still so weak, and the capacity for taking God’s thoughts is so feeble.  But let us look to Jesus to teach us as none but He can teach.  If we take His words in simplicity, and trust Him by His Spirit to make them within us life and power, they will so enter into our inner being, that the spiritual Divine reality of the truth they contain will indeed take possession of us, and we shall not rest content until every petition we offer is borne heaven-ward on Jesus’ own words:  ‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’

Beloved fellow-disciples in the school of Jesus!  let us set ourselves to learn this lesson well.  Let us take these words just as they were spoken.  Let us not suffer human reason to weaken their force.  Let us take them as Jesus gives them, and believe them.  He will teach us in due time how to understand them fully:  let us begin by implicitly believing them.  Let us take time, as often as we pray, to listen to His voice:  Every one that asketh, receiveth. Let us not make the feeble experiences of our unbelief the measure of what our faith may expect.  Let us seek, not only just in our seasons of prayer, but at all times, to hold fast the joyful assurance:  man’s prayer on earth and God’s answer in heaven are meant for each other.  Let us trust Jesus to teach us so to pray that the answer can come.  He will do it, if we hold fast the word He gives today:  ‘Ask, and ye shall receive.’ ‘LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY.’

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Sunspots 778


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


The Arts: Some hard-working Japanese created a mile-long wooden Xylophone that plays "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," by Bach.

Christianity: (and Politics) An article pointing out how Christianity is privileged, not persecuted, in the US.

Christianity Today says that those of us who oppose protesters who want to open up the country should have compassion on them.

Computing: Gizmodo reports that accepting a lot of seemingly random Facebook Friend requests makes it more likely that you will be a target for questionable Facebook stuff.

Listverse tells us how telemarketers work.

Gizmo's Freeware reports on a free (you don't even have to register) on-line tool that enhances and enlarges pictures.

Education: Microsoft Word has started flagging the use of a double space at the end of a sentence. Some of you aren't going to like it. The article tells how to bypass that AI correction.


Environment: Earther reports that the Trump Administration is planning to allow Uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, which, says Earther, is unnecessary -- we don't have a shortage.
 
Science: Gizmodo reports that there seem to be several objects in our solar system that were captured from some other star's system.

I never thought of this one, but why not? Scientists are looking for DNA in streams, and finding out about land animals from the DNA they leave behind, according to The Scientist.

Sports: FiveThirtyEight notes the retirement of Muffet McGraw as head women's basketball coach at Notre Dame, and suggests that achieving as many wins as she had will be nearly impossible in a few years. (Three active coaches have more wins than McGraw's 934.)

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.

Thanks for looking!


Monday, April 27, 2020

Cheese in the Bible

According to the Wikipedia, cheese-making goes back perhaps as much as 10,000 years. During that time, several methods and materials have been used -- just look at the cheese display in a good grocery store. (Maybe you should wait a while to do this.)

I did a search for "cheese" in the Bible, and found just three mentions, as follows:

1 Samuel 17:18 ... and bring these ten cheeses to the captain of their thousand; and see how your brothers are doing, and bring back news.” (This is part of the story of David and Goliath. All scripture from the World English Bible, public domain.)

2 Samuel 17:29 ... honey, butter, sheep, and cheese of the herd, for David, and for the people who were with him, to eat; for they said, “The people are hungry, weary, and thirsty in the wilderness.” (This is when David and those loyal to him left Jerusalem to escape Absalom and his followers. A rich man fed the group.)
 
Job 10:10 Haven’t you poured me out like milk, and curdled me like cheese? (Part of Job's long complaint.)

I expected to find more references, but that was it. As far as I know, no one knows for sure what kind of cheese is referred to in any of these verses.

Thanks for reading! Eat some cheese.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 30

This post continues a series of excerpts from With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this public domain work available. To see their post of the book, go here. The previous post is here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color.

There may be cases in which the answer is a refusal, because the request is not according to God’s Word, as when Moses asked to enter Canaan.  But still, there was an answer:  God did not leave His servant in uncertainty as to His will.  The gods of the heathen are dumb and cannot speak.  Our Father lets His child know when He cannot give him what he asks, and he withdraws his petition, even as the Son did in Gethsemane.  Both Moses the servant and Christ the Son knew that what they asked was not according to what the Lord had spoken:  their prayer was the humble supplication whether it was not possible for the decision to be changed.  God will teach those who are teachable and give Him time, by His Word and Spirit, whether their request be according to His will or not.  Let us withdraw the request, if it be not according to God’s mind, or persevere till the answer come.  Prayer is appointed to obtain the answer.  It is in prayer and its answer that the interchange of love between the Father and His child takes place.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Sunspots 777

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



Christianity: He Lives argues that there are only two kinds of  God's laws.

Christianity Today argues that gullibility is not a spiritual gift, and notes that evangelical Christians are more likely to fall for conspiracy theories than the population at large.

GeoChristian reviews a book about the interaction/discussion between a young-earth creationist, Todd Wood, and an evolutionary creationist, Darrel Falk. They learned to respect each other as Christians.

Relevant has an essay on how Ecclesiastes resonates with the current pandemic.

Environment: NPR reports on a study that shows that outdoor cats have a big impact on birds and small quadrupeds.

Humor: Gizmodo reports that we are living in the golden age of crossword puzzles.
 
Politics: (or something) The US Postal Service is in financial trouble, and some people are suggesting that we buy stamps, as a way of helping it, according to NPR.

FiveThirtyEight discusses what happens if a presidential candidate dies or can't run for office for other reasons. (We have the two oldest candidates ever, running.)

Science: Gizmodo on "Why is it so hard to figure out if the Corona virus is airborne?"

The graphic used in these posts is from NASA, hence, it is free to use like this.
Thanks for looking!