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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)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 5

Good Reading. Good books and papers are among the mightiest agencies which God is now using to impress men with His truth. Through them He is silently undermining the fortifications of the enemy, and building up His spiritual kingdom. They have won many who were impervious to all other appeals, and their influence is mighty and quiet, like the laws of gravity.

Angels. Impressions from above often come from holy angels.

The Psalmist declared that "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." These, and many parallel passages in the Word are confirmed by the express declaration in Hebrews that "they are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister unto them who shall be heirs of salvation."
Wise, mighty, holy, elect and innumerable, they are among the most powerful, yet unseen and often unappreciated agencies God has given to "have charge" over His people. Sometimes their special errand is to comfort in some fiery furnace; or to cheer in some dark lion's den; or to warn of some threatening peril; or to deliver Peter from prison; or rejoice over souls newly saved; or to announce the tidings of a Savior's birth and resurrection; or to execute the judgments of God upon the ungodly; or to influence a preacher's appointment, as with Philip; or to help a seeker to obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost, as with Cornelius; or to cheer in danger and point to a promising future, as with Paul. In every instance they have human interest in their keeping, and doubtless much more frequently than is generally thought are the agents of impressions from above.

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 13, 2016

Sunspots 582

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

The Arts: This year is the 500th anniversary of the death of Hieronymus Bosch, who produced perhaps the strangest paintings ever painted. Here's a link to his most famous one, The Garden of Earthly Delights.

Christianity: A report that thousands of Tibetans, including some Buddhist monks, have come to belief in Christ, mainly because of the unselfish work of Christians after a disaster.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points to an article on how to use your Windows computer as a wireless hotspot.

Finance: FiveThirtyEight says that poor kids need summer jobs, but well-off kids are more likely to get them.

Science: Listverse reports on 10 very large one-celled organisms.

Listverse also presents 10 interesting facts about the planet Jupiter.

A writer in Wired considers the idea that we are not only making many species extinct, but are also doing things that make new species possible, and there have been some new species which have appeared recently because of what we have done in the environment.

Wired reports on the contents of sunscreen.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 4

There are many different telegraph wires over which messages are transmitted from the Divine mind to our own. The following are among the number:

The Bible. This is God's will revealed in human language. Its impressions are divine. It speaks on every needed subject, and its general principles and specific applications of them are designed above all minor voices to so impress us that "being made wise unto salvation," whatsoever we do in word or deed shall be done solely for man's good and God's glory.

The Ministry. God frequently sends special and startling messages by His ministers. Impressions made by the truth as it leaps front a glowing heart are often indelible. Many, as at Pentecost, have been "so pricked to the heart," that they have found no rest until fully surrendered to Jesus. Others have thus been comforted, or strengthened, or convicted for some special work.

Personal Influence. Many messages from above are sent over this wire. The impressions thus made on my mind by letters from a dear friend awakened and led me to Jesus, and when tried in the furnace of God's afflictive fires, one of the strongest comforting impressions that came to me was caused by the following lines sent by one of earth's comforting angels:
"In the furnace God may prove thee,
Thence to bring thee forth more bright,
But can never cease to love thee,
Thou art precious in His sight.
God is with thee,
God thine everlasting Light."
Such instances like the sands on the seashore are numberless.

Prayer. One of the mightiest influences which lead Godward and heavenward is the prayer of faith.

Under its power persecuting Sauls fall blindly to the earth, and the counsels of persecutors are overturned, and saints are comforted and led in ways they knew not of. The pressure brought to bear upon the mind of the one for whom a number unite in prayer is mighty. Who is there that has not "felt" the prayers of others in their restraining or persuasive influence?

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 06, 2016

Sunspots 581

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

Cal Thomas, a Christian, and a politically conservative columnist, who interviewed Mr. Trump a few weeks before Dobson's statement, is skeptical of his reported conversion.

A columnist in Relevant argues that when Jesus said that the poor will always be with you, He didn't mean that we shouldn't do something about them, or, really, that poverty was a necessary condition.

Health: National Public Radio reports on the use of virtual reality (VR) in seriously incapacitated patients, who seem to be responding well to VR.

NPR also reports on various kinds of gifts to doctors by drug companies and device makers, which, unfortunately, may influence those doctors to prescribe treatments that aren't in the patient's best interest. Hospitals in Southern states are most likely to have such influences.

Wired tells us that it's OK, healthwise, anyway, to eat boogers.

Politics: Wired on how the Benghazi report is presented, and interpreted, in accord with our pre-existing biases. 

Sports: FiveThirty Eight (and other sources) argues that Pat Summitt, recently deceased Tennessee women's basketball coach, was the greatest college women's basketball coach of all time. Others have gone further, and said that she was the greatest college basketball coach, period.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 3

1. Impressions from Above. They all originate with God. He speaks directly by His Spirit in the heart wherein He reigns. In its "secret inner chamber" He sweetly whispers the "will of God concerning us."

Under this direct impulse from within Jesus was "led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil."

Paul was thus impelled to preach the Gospel in some places but restrained from others, and Christians in all ages have been directly impressed concerning the truth and its application to their especial needs.

The Holy Spirit is the Christian's promised Guide. He makes no new revelation of truth, but explains that already revealed. His guidance is always in harmony with the Bible, of which He is the Author. His modes of guiding will be noticed further on Following His leadings is one of the marks of being a true believer. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God." His leadings are above all others, and all others are made potent by His power. Many have written ably on His exalted offices. This work will undertake to magnify Him, by warning against voices which seek to simulate His tones by substituting impressions from below for convictions from above.

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

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Sunspots 580

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

The Arts: Wired on how neon signs are made.

Christianity: Relevant tells us why men shouldn't refer to their spouses as "smokin' hot wives," and analyzes the Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon) in the process.

Relevant muses about prayer being (sometimes) boring.

Ken Schenck closes a fine series on the Ten Commandments with some thoughts on "Thou shalt not covet."

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware has an annotated list of Android apps that serve as reminders and calendars.

Gizmo's also recommends running VirusTotal on any Android devices you have.

Health: Listverse on 10 feats of human endurance, such as staying awake, or going without food and water, for a very long time.

History: Listverse reports on the 10 richest men (no women listed) in history.

Politics: Politifact finds, after thorough research, that the US does not have the highest personal tax rate  in the world, although perhaps it has the highest corporate tax rate in the world.

Wired tells us that people are modifying existing guns to make their own semi-automatic weapons.

Relevant says that racism is alive and well in the US, even in Christians, and, probably, in you and me, and tells us what we can do about it.

Science: Listverse points out 10 things that one or more species of animals can do, that we can't.

Gizmodo reports that the Caribbean basin makes a very low-pitched sound.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 2


An impression is defined as "an influence on purposes, feelings or actions."

While we are free to choose the right or wrong, yet we are continually acted upon by influences which impress in different ways. Some of them come silently as the sunshine; others come like the lightning's stroke or thunder's peal; others like gentle zephyrs, and some like the devastating tornado. Every impression has a source. Back of all operating second causes there is with each impression a designing mind which is the source of it. God is the author of all good impressions, Satan of all that are evil.

Hence all impressions are naturally divided into two Classes:
1. Those from our Father, which we will call "Impressions from above." These, if followed ripen into convictions.
2. Those from the devil, which we will call "Impressions from below."

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sunspots 579

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

The Arts: Listverse reports on 10 interesting dollhouses. Some of them have been used for children's play, some haven't.

Christianity: Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength doesn't think we are capable of understanding God fully (or even close to that.) This is in response to an atheist that thinks that, if there is a God, we should be capable of understanding Him.

Relevant on how to escape sexual temptation.

Christianity Today on how suffering produces sanctification.

Ken Schenck tells us that telling the truth is almost always the loving thing to do.

Health: The New York Times reports that, although there are some disturbing trends in health in the US, such as increased suicide rates, and increasing disparity in the life-spans of rich vs. poor, the health of children seems to be improving.

Philosophy: (Or something) Listverse gives us 10 possible explanations for the feeling of déjà vu. I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with any of them, but they're interesting.

Politics: The New York Times on how rare gun deaths are in other countries.

Wired explains the FBI's terrorist watch lists.

Science: Wired wonders if mockingbirds can be trained to sing "songs" that are less annoying.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Excerpts from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 1

IMPRESSIONS By Martin Wells Knapp
PREFACE The author has written this book for the following reasons: 1. Because of the great need of light and the absence of books on this subject. 2. It is believed that Some have gone over the falls of fanaticism, and that others have been greatly perplexed and hindered in their life work on account of lack of such light. 3. Some who read the two sections, which were published, declared themselves to have been greatly helped thereby. 4. God brought the subject-matter to the author's mind, laid it upon his heart, and opened the way for its writing and publication. He feels that equally with his other books, God has directed and will bless in its circulation and perusal. He also believes that with His blessing upon it, it will prove a light-house by life's sea, which will help to warn of threatening danger, and aid its readers in standing "perfect and complete in all the will of God." To whom be glory forever.

From Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here.

Friday, June 17, 2016

We can't see the Milky Way anymore

God revealed through the Milky Way

National Public Radio, and other news sources, have reported on a study which indicates that most North Americans (and others) cannot see the Milky Way, the galaxy that we are part of, because there is too much artificial light (light pollution) in the sky. That’s too bad, for two reasons, at least.

One reason that it’s too bad is aesthetic. The Milky Way is beautiful. Although it’s not extremely bright, it covers so much of the sky that, when visible, it’s the most obvious feature of the heavens above us. If we can’t see it, we are deprived of one of the most beautiful and majestic aspects of the creation. For comparison, consider your favorite wild flower, or wild bird, or mountain, and suppose that, for some reason, you were never going to see this flower or bird or mountain again. You would be deprived, of some of the beauty that inspires and comforts you, and that’s too bad.

The second reason is that the observation of nature is one of the ways that God is revealed to us. (It’s not the only one, or the most important, but it’s one way.) Because the Bible says so.

Psalm 8 tells us that we should praise God, and also indicates that considering the heavens informs us about our place in the creation:

1 Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens!
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
4 what is man, that you think of him?
What is the son of man, that you care for him?
5 For you have made him a little lower than the angels,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You make him ruler over the works of your hands.
You have put all things under his feet:

Psalm 97 repeats the first theme:
The heavens declare his righteousness.
All the peoples have seen his glory.

Psalm 19 explicitly says that nature reveals God to us:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God.
The expanse shows his handiwork.
2 Day after day they pour out speech,
and night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech nor language,
where their voice is not heard.
4a Their voice has gone out through all the earth,
their words to the end of the world. 

Such statements are not confined to the Old Testament. Here’s a part of Romans 1:
20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity, that they may be without excuse.

So, if we can’t see the Milky Way, we are a little less able to worship God, to understand His redemptive work, and to know our place in creation.

Am I advocating turning off all streetlights, or prohibiting driving after dark? No. That’s not my call, and I often use lights at night, sometimes in what I hope is God’s work. But I should realize that, by indiscriminate use of light, I am cutting myself, and others, off from part of my understanding of God. The Passenger Pigeon, once the most common bird in North America, became extinct a little over 100 years ago, due to human activity. We can no longer see huge, majestic flocks of these creatures, and so are also, by that lack, deprived of some once available knowledge of God’s power and majesty. The American Bison, and some rhino species, are not yet extinct, but we are never going to see them in the magnificent numbers that people once did, and the rhinos, at least, may really become extinct. Too bad.

We live in a fallen world, and, environmentally speaking, it seems to become less like God gave it to us by the day. As Paul said, in Romans 8:
19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.

Thanks for reading. Look for the Milky Way!

The photo is from Pixabay, which allows such use.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sunspots 578

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

Christianity: An articulate former atheist describes her process of coming to belief, in Christianity Today.

Ken Schenck on what the Bible says about bearing false witness.

The Environment: National Public Radio reports on a study of light pollution. 80% of North Americans can't see the Milky Way, because of so much light at night. We can't see it from our home. Can you?

Finance: Relevant and other sources report that HBO's John Oliver purchased (he says it's easy to do it) $15,000,000 "worth" of medical debt for about $60,000, and forgave all the debtors.

Health: The New York Times reports that the US is about 25th in the world in infant care.

Politics: Sojourners reports that Russell Moore, an important Southern Baptist, believes that Donald Trump is a lost soul, who should repent.

A woman writes, in Christianity Today, about being refused the use of women's restrooms, and other facilities.

Science: National Public Radio reports on our relationship with dogs. We may have domesticated dogs twice, or perhaps they domesticated us twice.

Listverse describes 10 groups of organisms that have been extinct for a long time. Like Trilobites, and lesser known creatures.

Science News reports that it may be possible to produce fully pluripotent stem cells from adult cells, thus making the use of embryonic cells unnecessary.

Sports: USA Today says that the first 14 LPGA golf tournaments of 2016 were won by young women -- under 23, until a week or so ago. The most recent one, a major tournament, which finished on June 13, was won by the youngest player ever to win a that major, in a playoff with another player who would also have been the youngest. Both are still teenagers.

Image source (public domain)  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Excerpts from Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, 74

The mass of men have been forced to be gay about the little things, but sad about the big ones. Nevertheless (I offer my last dogma defiantly) it is not native to man to be so. Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when joy is the fundamental thing in him, and grief the superficial.

Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive frame of mind; praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; joy is the uproarious labour by which all things live. Yet, according to the apparent estate of man as seen by the pagan or the agnostic, this primary need of human nature can never be fulfilled. Joy ought to be expansive; but for the agnostic it must be contracted, it must cling to one corner of the world. Grief ought to be a concentration; but for the agnostic its desolation is spread through an unthinkable eternity. This is what I call being born upside down. The sceptic may truly be said to be topsy-turvy; for his feet are dancing upwards in idle ecstacies, while his brain is in the abyss. To the modern man the heavens are actually below the earth. The explanation is simple; he is standing on his head; which is a very weak pedestal to stand on. But when he has found his feet again he knows it. Christianity satisfies suddenly and perfectly man’s ancestral instinct for being the right way up; satisfies it supremely in this; that by its creed joy becomes something gigantic and sadness something special and small. The vault above us is not deaf because the universe is an idiot; the silence is not the heartless silence of an endless and aimless world. Rather the silence around us is a small and pitiful stillness like the prompt stillness in a sick-room. We are perhaps permitted tragedy as a sort of merciful comedy: because the frantic energy of divine things would knock us down like a drunken farce. We can take our own tears more lightly than we could take the tremendous levities of the angels. So we sit perhaps in a starry chamber of silence, while the laughter of the heavens is too loud for us to hear. Joy, which was the small publicity of the pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation. The tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall. His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something. Solemn supermen and imperial diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down the front steps of the Temple, and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something. I say it with reverence; there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness. There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray. There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation. There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.

Orthodoxy, by G. K. Chesterton, is in the public domain, and available from Project Gutenberg. This is my last post in the series of excerpts, as I have run out of Orthodoxy.  It has been a pleasure to read, and publish, a little of that book for nearly a year and a half, and I thank God for the privilege. The previous post in this series is here. Thanks for reading! Read Chesterton.