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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Why the 'Nones' have left Religion behind

A recent poll, by the Pew Research Center, addresses the topic of the title of this post.

The article, and the data given, don't give a definite most important reason, but facing mainstream scientific teaching on origins is mentioned, and is probably the most important reason -- either high school or college teachers (or others) convinced the 'nones' to question what they had been taught in their homes and churches, or the 'nones,' themselves found that what they had been taught didn't seem to accord with the facts.

That's too bad, but not surprising. It is possible 1) that the world was created a few thousand years ago, 2) that living things, including humans, were originally created by separate supernatural acts, and that 3) there was a world-wide flood. But godly, Spirit-led Bible scholars are not unanimous about these matters. Telling young people that the Bible is definite about all of these things, and that you have to believe them to be a Christian, is a serious mistake. Christians disagree about the significance of baptism and communion, women in ministry, church government, speaking in tongues, and many other things. It's not surprising that they disagree about origins, too. It would be much better to state, forcefully, that the chief quarrel Christians have with atheists over origins is none of these things, but the question of purpose. The Bible doesn't tell us how, when, or why the universe (or the earth) began, but it starts out by telling us that there was a Who involved -- the universe was created because God wanted to do it. No atheist, scientist or not, can disprove that. No one can scientifically disprove, either, that God has not performed miracles since the earth was formed, nor that God is involved in sustaining the earth, and the living things on it, at present. (Colossians 1:16-17)

All too many scientists (I have read, or heard, that Crick**, and Edward O. Wilson, are examples.) were taught, in church, items 1, 2, and 3, and that the Bible is definite about these matters, then, later, discovered that there is solid scientific evidence for an ancient earth, no convincing geologic data demonstrating that there was a flood, and abundant reason to believe that all of the organisms on earth are descended from pre-existing forms, and, possibly, from a single common ancestor. The result was that these people, and others not so prominent, came to doubt everything their churches had taught.
**He had no doubt that what caused him to lose his faith was science which revealed some of the assertions of the Bible as false. "And if some of the Bible is manifestly wrong," he wrote in his memoirs,"why should any of the rest of it be accepted automatically?" - Matt Ridley, Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code. New York: HarperCollins, 2006. p. 9.

Sunspots 588

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

Christianity: A Relevant columnist discusses her experiences with online dating.
Benjamin L. Corey re-examines Romans 8:28, the verse that seems to be saying that all things work together for our good.

Relevant tells us that being in the center of God's will isn't always safe.

Literature: Listverse notes 10 important works written while the author was in prison. (Not included: Revelation, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail.")

Politics: Relevant points out that "Jesus Never Worried About Politics."

Science: Listverse on ten animal species that show real intelligence.
Listverse also has an article on ten of the most important crop plants, that had their genomes changed significantly by ancient humans.

Wired reports that horse racers are using DNA testing in developing successful race horses.

Wired reports that there are underwater heat waves, and they are devastating to marine life.

DarkSiteFinder is designed to show us how well we can, or can't, see the stars at night, because of light pollution. It has a link to an detailed map.

Sports: Wired tells us that athletes in most Olympic events are helped by various equipment enhancements, and, actually, are cyborgs, rather than pure humans.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 10

[Knapp continues his discussion of "Impressions from Below."] Satan, too, is shrewd to get, when possible, good people to carry his messages. He always does this when he can, as it helps to hide his purpose. Universalism is the most baneful kind of infidelity, because its messages are carried by men who profess to be ministers of Jesus. License of liquor could not live for a year were it not that the devil has secured for its defenders professedly good men. When men who are really good are deceived by Satan, and really think his messages are from above, the deception is deeper, and danger still more dire.

The Prayers of Mistaken People. The influence of mind over mind is marvelous. If a person of strong will determines a certain thing in regard to another, and persistently insists upon it, there is reason to believe that the other person will feel the influence thereof though thousands of miles away. Where a number of persons thus unite the influence felt will be still stronger, and it will be felt whether the people are in the right or wrong.

"The one accord" which is essential for a church to prevail in prayer embraces this principle. It is a power for good when in God's order, but when through ignorance or wrong motives it is not of the Spirit, it works perplexity and harm.

I know of an instance of a lady who has been tormented for over two years from this source. A good man, minister of the Gospel, became possessed of the idea that she should marry him. He said
that God had revealed it to him. The woman was fully saved, and felt just as sure that God had revealed the contrary to her. He commenced praying that God would show her her error, and while her convictions kept deepening that he was mistaken, yet often a disagreeable feeling would come to her as a result of his persistent, misguided prayer.

A person with weaker convictions of duty might have been lead to yield to such an influence, but being enabled to see through it all as a design of Satan, she simply suffered the perplexity, and remained firm.

Satan delights to get good folks to waste their prayers over what is not the mind of the Spirit, as it diverts from God-given work.

These impressions seek to pull one out of the path of duty, and as they come through the medium of at least professedly good people they are sometimes very perplexing.

The Flesh. Its appetites often clamor for unlawful indulgence, and cry so loud as to drown all other voices.

Self. The unrenewed and unsanctified I within always wants its own way, and will persistently plead for it. When messages from below harmonize with it, it is quick to carry them

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, August 17, 2016

Sunspots 587

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

Christianity: (or Religion) Listverse sets forth 10 common misconceptions about Hinduism. (See also the Wikipedia on Hinduism -- the two sources do not agree on every point.)

Listverse also sets forth 10 common misconceptions about Jews.

Computing: National Public Radio reports on storage of information in arrangements of individual atoms. Potentially, our hard discs, thumb drives, etc., could be superseded.

Education: Wikipedia articles (here and here) on the development of a written Cherokee language, in about 1820, by a Native American named Sequoyah. His system of symbols made it easier to teach reading and writing than the symbols most of us use today.

Finance: John Wesley's sermon on "The Use of Money."

Food: National Public Radio reports on the discovery that cockroach milk is very nutritious.

Politics: (Not really. but I don't have a category for this.) Two young women are hitchhiking across Europe with a sofa (!) in an attempt to help refugees.

Wired reports that your political posts on Facebook or Twitter don't change anyone's mind.

Science: Listverse reports on 10 mysteries involving spiders.

And Listverse also reports on 10 amazing things that 10 species of animals can do.

National Public Radio reports on some very old sharks (like more than two centuries, at least.)

NPR alsoreports on why sunflowers follow the sun. ("Follow" means that the flowers turn toward the sun throughout the day).

And NPR reports that earthworms really do enrich soil.

Image source (public domain)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Pride goes before a fall

The Wikipedia defines pride thus:
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly ... and irrationally corrupt sense of one's personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one's own or another's choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.

The word, pride, is used about 50 times in the Bible. (See here for a search, using the English Standard Version.) There are very few positive connotations of its use in the Bible. In 1 Corinthians 15:31 and 2 Corinthians 7:4, Paul says that he has pride in the Corinthian church. But there's plenty of pride that is condemned:
In Mark 7:21-23, Jesus lists pride as one aspect of the evil heart of humans.
1 John 2:16 says that the "pride of life" is not from God, but from the world.
Ezekiel 16:49-56 lists pride first among the sins of Sodom, which was destroyed by God in the time of Abraham.
Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
Pride is one of the so-called Seven Deadly Sins -- the Wikipedia lists it as the first one.
Satan is described so that his pride is obvious in John Milton's classic Paradise Lost.

Clearly, selfish pride is dangerous, and to be avoided. Submission does not come easily to us. Be we ought to submit to God, and, eventually, everyone will do so, willingly or not.

How is pride manifest? In at least these, and, no doubt, in other ways:
Superiority pride -- believing that I am more important than others. Expecting special treatment, and believing that I deserve it. Such special treatment may include from the police, from teachers, from companies that I do business with, maybe even from my parents.
Intellectual pride -- believing that I know more than others. I look down on those who don't agree with what I know, or think I know. For example, I might be a Republican who believes that all Democrats are deluded idiots.
Pride in origins and/or associates -- believing that my family, my tribe, my school, my church, my team, my group, is better than any other.
Self-righteous pride -- believing that I do not need to ask forgiveness for my sins, or that I have not sinned, or that my religious activity, or my charitable giving, or devotion to God, is responsible for my righteousness in the sight of God. (The only way to achieve such righteousness is to trust Christ for forgiveness of sin.)
Pride in my accomplishments -- believing that I'm important because I won the 5th-grade spelling bee, or because my lawn has just been mowed, or because I made that sale. Not considering that I had help with these achievements, a father who coached me in spelling, a spouse who mowed the lawn, a mechanic who fixed the lawnmower, a staff who helped me make the sale. Daniel 4 comes to mind. In this chapter, King Nebuchadnezzar bragged, in verse 30, that he had built Babylon, when he probably hadn't mortared in a brick or pounded a nail of it. He received punishment for his pride.

Thanks for reading. Be careful not to be proud. I need to be careful, too.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 9

He [Satan] is the author, directly or indirectly, of all "Impressions from below." Many impressions come from him directly. They frequently are shot by him into the mind, like the leaping of lightning from a dark thunder-cloud, and astound by their suddenness and awfulness.

1. Evil Angels. "There are," says a gifted writer on this subject, "the voices of evil and deceiving spirits, who lie in wait to entrap every traveler entering these higher regions of spiritual life. In the same epistle which tells us that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ, we are also told that we shall have to fight with spiritual enemies. These spiritual enemies, whoever or whatever they may
be, must necessarily communicate with us by means of our spiritual faculties and their voices, as the voice of God, is an inward impression made upon our spirit. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit may tell us by impressions what the will of God is concerning us, so also will these spiritual enemies tell us by impressions what is their will concerning us, though not of course giving it their name." --
From Christian's Secret of a Happy Life.

"I believe," says John Wesley, "that united under Satan, they either range the upper regions, whence they are called princes of the power of the air, or, like him, walk about the earth as 'roaring
lions seeking whom they may devour."' A greater than Wesley has said: "For we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness [margin, wicked spirits] in high places."

As good angels may be the messengers of impressions from above, so may evil ones, who are ever ready to blight and annoy and perplex and destroy, be of those from below.

Human Influence. Bad people are wires over which evil impressions fly thick and fast. An evil word or glance may make an impression that is lasting.

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, August 10, 2016

Sunspots 586

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

Christianity: An article in Christianity Today tells us that the Lord's Supper should be a (wedding) rehearsal dinner for believers.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware describes a web site that will help you get your files back, for free, if you are a victim of ransomware.

Listverse reports on 10 things that drones are being used for, now.

Education: 1 Corinthians 13 for teachers.

NPR has an opinion piece on the subject of whether college students should be allowed to bring information appliances into a lecture class.

Health: FiveThirtyEight asks, and tries to answer, five important questions about the Zika virus.

Wired reports on a program which releases male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes (which carry the Zika virus), infected by a bacterium that makes any females they mate with sterile.

Wired also suggests that we continue to use dental floss, in spite of some recent report that indicate that the effectiveness of flossing is not proven.

Politics: Christianity Today has a careful discussion on political correctness.

Science: National Public Radio reports that a whale species not previously known has been discovered.

Sports: NPR, and many other sources, report that a skydiver jumped from a plane, 25,000 feet above the ground, with no parachute, and landed safely.

Wired explains the physics of this event.

Relevant on a Syrian refugee who is competing as a refugee in the Olympics, and helped to keep a number of other refugees from drowning.

Christianity Today has assembled the testimonies of several Christian Olympians.

Image source (public domain)

Monday, August 08, 2016

Suggested guidelines on discipling others

In Matthew 28:16-20, Christ commanded His disciples to make disciples, which means to teach others carefully and thoroughly. How are we to do that? Here are some suggestions:

Guidelines on Discipling Others
The most important guideline is to be an example of Christlikeness.

Children: 1. read Bible stories to them, from the Bible, or from Bible story books.
2. Pray with them. Teach them that prayer is not just asking for things, but is also confession of sin, and asking for forgiveness, and is also thanking God for who He is and what He has done. Prayer should become a way of life.
3. Answer questions (Why isn’t my grandfather here anymore?) honestly, scripturally, and not so as to overwhelm the child. including “I don’t know, but I’ll try to find out” when appropriate.

4. Learn and live the Golden Rule. (Matthew 7:12)

Adults: Follow guidelines 2 and 3 above.

5. Teach that God loves sinners (John 3:16, Christ’s suffering and death) but hates sin.
6. Teach them to read the Bible regularly. New Christians shouldn’t start with Revelation or Ezekiel. They should become familiar with these passages: Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 23, Psalm 51, Psalm 119:11, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 53:3-12, Matthew 7:12, Matt 5-7, 22:34-40, 25:31-46, 28:16-20, John 14:5-15:27, 1 Corinthians 13 and 15, Galatians 5:22-23, Hebrews 11, 1 John 1, 1 John 4:7-9. The rest of the Bible, especially the Gospels and Acts, is also good, and should be read, but probably these passages should be absorbed first. Teach that Christians disagree over the meaning of some Bible passages, but the main message of the Bible is clear. We shouldn’t expect to understand all of scripture. Bible study and teaching will increase our understanding. 
7. Teach that Christ’s death and resurrection is the only remedy for sin. There is nothing we can do to save ourselves, except accept God’s grace by faith. (Ephesians 2:1-10) However, accepting Christ’s sacrifice, and following Him, will lead to good works, such as giving, helping, befriending and discipling others.
8. Teach that God expects us to become part of a Christ-honoring church. Such a group won’t be perfect, but we should be part of it.
9. Teach that Satan will continue to try to discourage and defeat believers, but that there is no temptation that we can’t overcome. (1 Corinthians 10:6-13). If we do sin, there is forgiveness. (1 John 1:9.)
10. Teach that although salvation gives us hope of heaven, that’s not its main purpose. The main purpose is to enable us to live a victorious life – a Christ-like one, full of joy, now. (Ephesians 3:14-21, John 10:10.)
11. Teach that salvation does not guarantee that bad things won’t happen. But God cares for us in those times, whether we feel like He does or not. He cares so much that He died for us, and God the Holy Spirit comforts and guides us.
12. Teach that the Bible does not tell us how, when or why the universe came to be, but that it is here because of a Who – there is a purpose in the universe.
13. Discipling doesn’t mean reproducing our personal convictions, our slant on things that Christians disagree on, or our politics and prejudices. That would be making my disciples, or yours, not Christ
14. See the most important guideline, at the top of the page.

Thanks for reading! Any suggestions would be appreciated. I thank a member of a small group I am part of for a suggestion, which has been incorporated above.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 8

It [Satanic agency] minutely and vividly presents his character as presumptuous, proud, powerful, wicked, malignant, subtle, deceitful, fierce, and cruel. He is compared to a "fowler," a "sower of tares," a "wolf," a "roaring lion," and a "serpent." He is called by over thirty different names descriptive of the different phases of his diabolical character. Among them are the following: "Murderer," "Dragon," "Father of Lies," "Old Serpent," "Wicked One," "Liar," and "Prince of the Devils." "The Accuser of the Brethren" is another of the names by which he is known in Scripture. In this character he has wrought much mischief.

He accuses God's children:

1. To Themselves. He does this in different ways:

(a.) By bringing wicked thoughts to their mind and then accusing them of thinking them. At such times we must remember that while we can not hinder such thoughts from coming, yet we can refuse
to harbor them and thus remain guiltless.

(b.) By telling them when they are "in heaviness through manifold temptations" that because of this they have no religion at all.

(c.) By sorely tempting them and then making them believe that the temptation itself instead of the yielding to it is sin.

(d.) By telling young converts, when they feel the movings of inbred sin still remaining in them, that because of this they never were truly converted.

(e.) By suggesting to more mature Christians that they have lost the blessing of perfect love simply because their emotions have in a measure subsided.

2. To Each Other.

(a.) By putting a bad construction to acts that are susceptible of a good one.

(b.) By charging wrong motives when the real motive is not known.

(c.) By telling one that he is not appreciated by others, or that he is slighted by them.

(d.) By telling one that others have no religion at all because they do not in all things see eye to eye with him.

3. To the Unconverted.

(a.) By telling them that Christians are deceived and that Christ is a hard Master.

(b.) That soul winners seek not them but their money.

(c.) That church members are all hypocrites.

In these and other ways he seeks to perplex and sow discord. His might so marvelous and strategic maneuvers so successful turned earth that was designed for Eden into an habitation of cruelty and
sepulcher of the dead.

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, August 03, 2016

Sunspots 585

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

The Arts: Listverse reports on 10 mysteries in the works, and lives, of great composers of classical music.

Christianity: A Relevant columnist says that living together without being married is not the best way to assess compatibility.

Christianity Today reports that Russia has enacted a law which may outlaw evangelizing in Russia.

Christianity Today reports on the harmful effects of pornography.

Computing: The Wall Street Journal on how to avoid being hacked.

Freesound is a repository of sounds that you can use, free.
USA Today
on the possibility of some really scary hacking, of your car, and other "wired" apparatus. 
Wired reports that hacking of the brakes and accelerator of a transfer truck, or a bus, is fairly easy.

Health: The New York Times discusses studies that show that being cold doesn't cause you to get a cold.

Philosophy: Listverse on 10 thought experiments in philosophy.

Politics and race: South Carolina's US Senator Tim Scott, a Republican African-American, on prejudicial treatment by some police officers.

Science: Listverse on 10 examples of convergent evolution -- that is, where the same feature is found in organisms not closely related. Example: opposable thumbs in pandas and primates.

The New York Times, and other sources, say that many of us, especially evangelical Christians, are afraid of technology to enhance human abilities, such as DNA engineering or brain chips.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 7

Providences. The events of the moment are also often the wire on which good impressions come. God the Father delights through them to speak to His children. Opportunities to do good speak constantly with voices clear and strong. A death, an accident, a providential meeting, and kindred circumstances, often impress with a sense of duty, and thus all things are made to work together for our good.

Over these and other wires which are laid between soul center and the divine mind, impressions are constantly coming.

2. Impressions from Below. To drown good impressions Satan has set up his kingdom, and exerts all of his ingenuity. He, too, has laid his telegraph lines and artfully operates them.

Satanic agency is a subject concerning which little is said, and yet by its subtle might millions have been and are being drawn into sin, despair and final ruin, and millions more have been perplexed, and God's life plan for them greatly hindered or completely thwarted. God's Word repeatedly recognizes the personality, ability, rank, influence and plans of the devil. He loves to deceive people into the belief that he does not exist, as he knows people will not be on their guard against a foe in whose being they do not believe. Any who have been thus misled by him should be awakened by the manifold declarations of the Word as to His personality, power and plans. It is divinely revealed that he was cast out of heaven; cast down to hell; the author of the fall; that he tempted Jesus; perverts the Scripture; opposes God's work; works lying wonders; appears as an angel of light; that he blinds, deceives, ensnares, and troubles the wicked; that he tempts, and that he afflicts and resists the saints. The Word also tells of Christ's victory over him by resisting his
temptations, casting out his subordinates, destroying his works, rescuing his victims, defeating his conspiracy, conquering death, and banishing him and his followers forever from the presence of God and the glory of His power.

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, July 30, 2016

Wired on science at the recent political conventions

Wired has recently published two articles on science at the two recent US political conventions.

In the first article, there is an analysis, presented in easy-to-follow chart form, of how often various scientific and medical terms were mentioned in speeches. The result? Roughly even. You probably won't be surprised to note that Democratic speakers were more likely to mention "climate" and "climate change," or that Republican speakers were more likely to mention "energy" and "oil." Three Republican speakers used scientific terms that Democrats didn't mention at all.

The article says that the purpose of the conventions is not to talk about science, but points out that, in many cases, solutions, or at least partial solutions, to our problems are often found by applying the findings of science. The author was disappointed that more attention wasn't given to funding science, and talking about scientific priorities.

In the second article, the writer takes Hillary Clinton to task for saying "I believe in science." Why? Because, the author says, science is not a belief system. It is a way of finding things out. Clinton was using shorthand for something like "I believe that climate change is occurring, and that humans can do things to slow this down, or stop it, while my opponent claims that the climate is not changing." But that shorthand could be, and is, taken wrongly, and this leads to attempts to use scientific findings in ways that they should not be.

After a discussion of the mainstream position of scientists on climate change, and a rather sympathetic discussion of why some people might doubt the scientific findings on that subject, the article says:
To reinforce the idea of science as something you can believe or not believe, to force Americans into “pro-science” and “anti-science” camps, robs science of its power. It changes the practice of science from a method for understanding into a dangerous political weapon.

Unfortunately, both parties seem to use dangerous political weapons, and most of them have little to do with scientific findings.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sunspots 584

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

Christianity: “A man cannot live one hour a godly life unless by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Andrew Murray, Absolute Surrender, public domain.

Ken Schenck has a post (which does not refer to any particular person or situation) on the pitfalls that may beset church leaders.

Schenck also has an important post on issues Christians disagree on.

A Relevant writer says that it's no wonder that pastors of mega-churches often fall spectacularly, explains why, and says that it's also the fault of the rest of that church.

Relevant says that more Christians were killed for their faith last year than in any year in modern history.

Education: (And computing) NPR reports that students who use computers (and tablets) in college classrooms get somewhat lower grades on tests. (The test grading was automated, so there wasn't teacher bias during grading.)

Health: Listverse reports on 10 facts about the human skeleton.

Wired reports that experiencing racism threatens health.

Archaeologists are learning more about the Philistines (Goliath and Delilah were Philistines), but still don't know where they came from, according to National Public Radio.

Do you think that pink has always been a girl's color? Think again.

Politics: Wired says that some areas are un-paving roads, as a way of saving money, and of making terrible paved roads into not-so-bad un-paved ones.

Relevant says that the new UK Prime Minister is a committed Christian. God help her.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 6

Dreams. "In the Bible," says the Christian Standard, "we have repeated illustration of where God led His children 'by impulses. impressions, calls, messages or dreams,' as well as 'by the Holy Ghost operating on all the faculties of the mind, strengthening each to perform its function along the lines of common sense, sound reason, and a sanctified judgment.'
"Because we are often misled by impressions, dreams, etc.; because Satan often uses these ways of deceiving souls; yet it is not necessary, nor does it relieve the difficulty, to deny to the Holy Ghost the right and the fact of so leading God's people.
"Dreams may be from the devil. They may come from gluttony at the supper table. They may be generated in an overtaxed brain. They may result from many combined 'second causes. Nevertheless, if we please, or whether we please or not, God did and can and does send dreams that we may disregard to our own damage and destruction."

Few folks are so foolish as to be influenced by ordinary dreams. Yet that God has spoken to His children through special dreams no well informed person will deny. Dreamology is a science but little understood. Because fanatics have taken dreams born of indigestion or inspired by Satan, for divine revelation, others have gone to the opposite extreme, and, like Herod with the innocents, slaughtered them by the wholesale.

For this reason few people believe in such manifestations, and according to their faith so it is to them. The antidote for fanaticism from reliance on them will be noticed in another chapter. In the dimmer light of the old dispensation God more frequently spoke to His people in this way. He specifically declared that He would make Himself known in a vision and speak in a dream. Num. 12: 2.

In this way He spoke to Jacob in the dream of the ladder and ascending and descending angels; to Joseph in the dream that foretold his bondage and his final prosperity; to Pharoah's butler and baker in the dream that told of the exaltation of one and the execution of the other; to Solomon in the dream that promised him wisdom and all needful accessories; to Joseph in the dream which quieted his fears concerning Mary, the mother of our Lord, and also again in warning him to take the "young child" and flee for safety from Herod's murderous plot; to the wise men from the east warning them of the same danger; to Pilate's wife warning her of the peril of persecuting Jesus, and to many others in just as marked a manner.

While there is no warrant in the words of Jesus for people to depend on dreams for guidance, it is evident that the Holy Spirit has, and sometimes does, speak to men through this agency. The abuse of dreams will be noticed further on.

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, July 20, 2016

Sunspots 583

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

Christianity: Ken Schenck reminds us that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports on a program that lets you listen to radio over the internet, and record it.

Health: The New York Times reports that major causes of death are still around, but that they are striking later in people's lives, and we aren't sure why.

Humor: 19 jokes for intelligent people, mostly chemistry-oriented.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight examines the data on shootings of people by the police, and concludes that the likelihood of being so shot has not gone down, in spite of recent widely publicized cases.

Science: FiveThirtyEight discusses very loud sounds.

Listverse tells us about 10 things that our brains do for us, more or less automatically.

Image source (public domain)