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I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
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The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In other words, you can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it, and as long as you give me credit.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sunspots 593

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



Christianity: A Relevant contributor, who used to be sexually active, has been celibate for three years.

Another Relevant contributor has written an essay on how to cope with lust after you are married.


Computing: (and Politics) Donald Trump, Jr., is not the only politician (or helper of one) accused of violating copyright, but he is one who has done so recently, according to National Public Radio. He used a Flickr photo, which is here, and is labelled "all rights reserved." I am a member of Flickr, but have not reserved all rights to my photos.

Health: National Public Radio reports on a doctor who confessed, years after the fact, to lying to protect another doctor in a malpractice case. The report suggests that such happenings are not rare, or not rare enough.

NPR also reports that life spans are no longer continuing to lengthen, and why.

History: You've probably seen, heard, and read about the National Museum of African American History and Culture. If you haven't, you should have.


Politics: National Public Radio has posted a transcript of the first Presidential debate, interspersed with fact checking.

The New York Times reports that, even after Mr. Trump's announcement affirming it, a significant number of citizens don't believe that President Obama was born in the U. S. (The number has gone down.)

Listverse has posted 10 dark secrets of Hillary Clinton, and 10 dark secrets of Donald Trump. God help us!

Science: An article on how archaeologists can study what dead people ate, from Listverse.

For all the uproar (sometimes) about genetic engineering of food crops, there have been few examples used commercially. One of these, making corn resistant to rootworms, is starting to fail -- the rootworms are evolving into having resistance. (Scientists predicted this would happen, but the seed companies didn't listen to them.) Another source of a resistance gene has been found.


Image source (public domain)

Monday, September 26, 2016

On the conversion of C. S. Lewis to belief in Christ

A blogger has posted a readable, but detailed account, of the conversion of C. S. Lewis, arguably the most important Christian writer of the 20th Century, to Christianity, and to belief in Christ as savior. J. R. R. Tolkien played a role in the conversion of Lewis.

Thanks for reading. Read Lewis (and/or Tolkien!)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 15

CHAPTER III
IMPRESSIONS FROM BELOW
CONTINUED

"Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation." -- Jesus.

Preceding chapters have noticed:

1. That impressions come through many different agencies.

2. That there is often a striking resemblance between those which are from above and those from below.

Many impressions are so evidently from God that they need no testing, but all that are in any ways doubtful should be summoned before a court of final appeal, the mention of which will soon be made.

Knowing that the person who will follow all impressions without stopping to test them will soon be at his mercy, Satan first of all seeks to ensnare by leading people to act at once without applying any test whatever. Then he will impress to do needless, unwise, untimely and ridiculous things, and seek to deceive his subjects into believing that the promptings came from God. There is not one instance in the New Testament where the Spirit led a person to do an outlandish thing. God don't lead in that way.

Others are impressed to talk to every one they meet, under all circumstances, about their souls. Some feel impressed to jump up and down and scream in meeting; others to lie down and let people walk over them to prove their humility; and at once putting these impressions in practice, they become the victims of Satan's wiles.

Saddest of all, the devil often succeeds in making people believe that these impressions are from above, and that they will resist the Spirit and backslide if they do not follow them. By this method he would keep those who will not do known sin, running on fruitless and often foolish errands.


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, September 23, 2016

Altering genes in human embryos and cloning hamburgers

Three recent articles have come to my attention, and seem worth commenting on.

National Public Radio reports on a scientist in Sweden who is modifying the genes of human embryos. (The embryos are "leftovers" from in vitro fertilization procedures, and the parents have given consent for such use.) He says that he is trying to figure out how to fix harmful genes.

There are serious ethical problems with this type of research. One such is the question of whether it is ethical to experiment on human embryos at all. Other questions include the likelihood that such techniques would be used to produce "designer babies" -- children with genes for, say, artistic ability -- and thus genetic haves and have-nots. Another question relates to the possibility of making some sort of mistake while pursuing this technique in an embryo which is brought to birth. Such a mistake would damage such a child, and would also be passed on to that child's offspring. The scientist says that he is not planning to implant any of the embryos he is working on, but someone else might.

Scientific American has an article about the "yuck factor" (I just don't like it) in making ethical decisions. An example would be making hamburgers from human tissue. (No one is doing that!) The article also discusses the production of hamburger meat from cow tissue. That has been done, but is some distance from being marketable. There are potential advantages in using such meat, which are discussed.

Scientific American also discusses the possibility (and, perhaps, likelihood) of using gene editing techniques to improve intelligence. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Sunspots 592

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



Christianity:A Christianity Today article on the pervasive role of coffee in many churches.

Christianity Today also has an article on reasons why we can't afford not to pray for each other.

A writer for Relevant points out three lies that churches often teach about dating.

A Christianity Today interviewee wants us to stop reading the Bible in little pieces.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points to a helpful article on how to sort, and how to find most anything in your gmail.

Education: A Scientific American contributor weighs in on whether tablet devices are a good teaching tool.
 
Politics: A Relevant writer says that "we" are not in a holy war with ISIS.

Science: Scientific American reports that people react differently to moral dilemmas when they hear about them in a language other than their native tongue.

Scientific American also reports that a bipartisan group of military leaders is urging action to prepare for climate change. (The Republican-controlled Congress has specifically barred the military from doing so!)

And, says Scientific American, there is an almost unknown group of soil microorganisms, the Cercozoans, that occur in immense numbers, and astonishing variety, and are important in soil ecology.


Sports: (or something) The Associated Press reports that an 800-plus pound alligator has been caught in South Carolina.

Congratulations to In Gee Chun (aka Chun, In-Gee) on arguably achieving the best score ever in a major tournament, by a golfer of either sex, in the recent Evian Championship. (ESPN; Wikipedia)





Image source (public domain)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 14

[Continuing Knapp's discussion of wrong, or evil, impressions:.The material in this post was from a G. D. Watson, and quoted by Knapp:]
... Another trick of the devil is to get sanctified people where they are lead by impressions. Some are frightened right off and go down; but if the devil finds he can not scare you, and can not make you stop testifying, then he will go round and attack you on the other side. I don't know whether you folks will believe what I am going to tell you, but it is the truth. The devil can make people feel tremendously happy. I have learned a great deal in the past fifteen years of the experiences of people. He can produce a fictitious happiness, and he will make you feel so with special reference to getting you where you live on impressions, and then the devil has got all he wants. Then he puts on his Sunday clothes and turns himself into an angel of light.
 

People -- even Christian people -- do not believe Scripture at this point. I have seen people so deluded by the devil, and I have said, 'Don't you know the devil can turn himself into an angel of light?' 'Oh, yes,' they say; 'but the devil isn't leading me! If God tells me to do so, I will do it,' they say. 
 

Again he says, 'I am the Holy Ghost.' And you can not detect him unless God helps you. He will begin by making you do something that is very nice for God. For instance, he will make you pray, but he will make you pray in the wrong way and at the wrong time. He will tell you to do a great many things, but he will always tell you, or impress you to do these things in a queer, outlandish or unnatural way. He says to one sister, when the child is crying and the bread about to burn: 'Now, the Holy Ghost says you must go and pray an hour; let the baby cry and the coffee-pot boil over.' I know these are facts. And the person goes off as sincere as an angel, and kneels down and prays; and the baby may get scalded to death.
 

God the Holy Ghost, in all His leadings, never leads people in an abnormal way, or an unnatural or a strained way. God doesn't strain you; He doesn't put the thumbscrew on you, and strain your muscles until they crack and snap, but the devil does.
 

The devil knows he can not make us lie or steal, or do any of these things, but he is trying to make you do pious things in a most outlandish and most unnatural and most abnormal way. I tell you, there is a tremendous amount of that work done. People think they are led by the Holy Ghost, and they are led by the devil as an angel of light.
 
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, September 14, 2016

Sunspots 591

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




Christianity: Benjamin L. Corey explains how God can change His mind (there are several examples in the Bible) and still be unchanging.

Relevant discusses the meaning of "lukewarm."

A Christianity Today columnist discusses the church's indifference to the working, white, poor in the US.



Health: Scientific American on why leisure, naps, sabbaticals and vacations are so important.

Politics: (or something) FiveThirtyEight examines the so-called "skills gap" -- companies claiming that they can't find workers with the proper skills -- and finds that it's mostly imaginary.

Science: FiveThirtyEight on why it's so hard to find other planets like the earth.

ListVerse on amazing facts about babies.


FiveThirtyEight on earthquakes in Oklahoma, and the oil and gas industries.

Scientific American and other sources report that there is not one, but four different species of giraffe (and several subspecies) according to recent DNA analysis. Most of these are endangered.

Scientific American also reports on a study that shows that children raised by permissive parents, or harsh parents, are more likely to be bullies than children raised by parents who are neither.

An animated guide to breathing, in humans, birds, and insects.



Image source (public domain)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 13

[Continuing Knapp's discussion of wrong, or evil, impressions.]
7. Wrong impressions may be and often, though not always, are in harmony with our natural desires. The forbidden fruit which was proffered in Paradise, and which appeared so "good" and "pleasant" and "desirable," has lost none of its attractiveness, and is far from being exhausted.

8. Evil impressions may also, like the good, be attended by striking passages of Scripture, which seem to sanction them. The devil and his agents, as in the temptation of Jesus, never fail to quote Scripture when they can pervert it to deceive and to strengthen their purposes. Mrs. H. W. Smith says she knew an earnest Christian who had the text, "All things are yours," so strongly impressed upon her mind in regard to some money that belonged to another person, that she felt that it was a direct command to steal the money, and after a struggle did so, with most grievous results.

... In all of the above and other particulars impressions from below may be like those from above, and thus robed as "angels of light," Satan seeks through them to "deceive, if it were possible, the very elect."


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, September 07, 2016

Sunspots 590

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




Christianity: A Florida State football player ate lunch with an autistic boy who was eating alone in his school cafeteria, says Relevant.

A blogger has posted some stupid phrases, or good phrases used stupidly, for people in crisis.

Benjamin L. Corey says that Christian parents should be celebrating Colin Kaepernick's refusal to stand during the National Anthem.


Computing: Bloomberg warns us that our new refrigerators may be watching us (and sending information to others.)

Education: National Public Radio reports on a study that indicates that when a child in school is exposed to violence in the home, it affects the entire class.

Health: Wired says that too many of us still aren't wearing seat belts.

Scientific American, and many other news outlets, on why the ingredients in many antibacterial soaps have been banned. (Regular soap is just as good!)

History: ListVerse on 10 people who rescued others, who were on the other side, during World War II.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight discusses facts about immigration, based on real data. (Example: Hispanic immigrants learn English as well as, or better than, German immigrants did in the past.)

Science: Wired has posted a graphic, showing how rapidly climate has changed over the past 160 years or so.

FiveThirtyEight discusses what starlight tells us about the universe. As the post says, pretty much everything we know.

Scientific American discusses the matter of calling family members by some other family member's name.

Scientific American also discusses the subject of communicating with aliens -- how could we learn their language (or the reverse)? (There's a movie about that coming out soon.)

NPR reports that some lizards are starving to death, because it is too hot for them to forage during most of the day.



Image source (public domain)

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 12

CHAPTER II
IMPRESSIONS FROM BELOW

"Be not deceived."

As has been seen, Satan and his emissaries, disguised as "angels of light," by wrong impressions are ever seeking to ruin souls, and to divert God's children from their divinely appointed mission. He always shapes his methods to his victims, and whom he can not openly allure he seeks to subtly deceive. He accomplishes his purpose with many impressions in a way something like that by which we poison rats. We do not throw down a lot of strychnine and say, "Rats, eat it and die." We take just a little and mingle it with some meal so concealed that they will not suspect the poison, and then they eat the meal, and with it poison enough to cause their death. So Satan takes the meal of divine truth and mingles with it enough error to accomplish his purpose, and men eat and are betrayed.

Hence, we find that as a pan of meal which is prepared with poison appears precisely like one which is free from it, and would pass as harmless unless analyzed, so impressions from below may be apparent counterparts of those from above. They may exactly resemble them in the following important particulars:

1. They are inward impressions made upon our spirits.

2. They are often very strong impressions. Fanaticism is born in the land of strong but wrong impressions.

3. They occur repeatedly. See how Satan persisted with our first parents, with Job, and with Jesus. He will keep repeating his messages as long as he can deceive his victims into giving him a hearing, and all of his agents are possessed of like perseverance.

4. They frequently occur during prayer and other devotions. Nothing is more in keeping with their object than to divert from communion with God, hence the idea that impressions are of God simply because they occur at such times is erroneous. They may be from Him and they may be from below.

5. Like good impressions they may be brought to us by our friends. Job had more trouble from his friends than from both affliction and Satan combined. Though they meant well the impressions they made were not from above. Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, Job's misguided counselors, have had their counterparts in all ages.

6. Wrong impressions, like good ones, may be attended by a chain of circumstances which seem to confirm their truthfulness. Satan is allowed great latitude, and shows great cunning in arranging his program to thwart divine purposes; selfish human nature also is eagle-eyed to claim as providential indications that were never so designed. It might have seemed providential to the assassin Booth that Lincoln was at the theater that fatal night, but does that prove that the murderer's impressions were of God?


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 31, 2016

Sunspots 589

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


The Arts: (Sort of) National Public Radio tells us that Nigeria has the best Scrabble players in the world.

Christianity: Speculative Faith points out that some Christians use magic spells.
 
Weekend Fisher has posted a fine essay on confessing sin.


Computing: Trend Micro is offering free tools for recovery from ransomware.

Education: A Wired columnist says that college won't train you for a job, but that's OK.

Humor: (or something) Relevant has posted a short video of a Lego construction that makes shadows that look like three different objects, depending on how the construction is rotated. Perhaps the coolest Lego creation I've ever seen.


Politics: FiveThirtyEight details the changes in the US welfare system (actually, it's now 50 systems) since the welfare reforms put in place while Bill Clinton was President. You will probably be surprised by what has happened.

Science: Space.com, and many other outlets, report that a nearby star has a planet that may be suitable for life.

Listverse reports on 10 discoveries of things preserved in amber, and what they tell us about the past.

Sports:





Image source (public domain)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 11

[Knapp concludes his discussion of bad impressions]
Bad Reading. Its influence for evil can not be estimated. Its impression for wrong will be as deep and lasting as hell itself.

These, and other wiles, are shrewdly manipulated by Satan, and over them impressions are constantly reaching the mind. Their constant clicking is confusing and frequently confounding to those who have not the spiritual education to distinguish the sources from which they come.

The human soul beneath these influences is like a place where two winds meet, the cold blizzards from the frigid zone of Satanic temptation and the refreshing gales from heavenly heights; or where two armies meet in fierce and deadly fray.

The soul itself can decide which shall prevail, and upon its decision hangs its character and its destiny. He who sides with convictions from above shall wear a victor's crown forever; with impressions from below shall be crownless and Christless through all eternity.


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, August 27, 2016

Salvation acrostic


Sin: separates us from God, and hurts us and others. It is something we have all done, but can’t pay the penalty for. Romans 3:23, 6:23.

Atonement: Christ’s death paid the price for my sin. Romans5:6-15.

Love: God loved us so much that He sacrificed Himself for our sin. Luke 19:10.

Victory: With the help of God the Holy Spirit, it is possible to live a holy life, victorious over temptation, including the temptation to take credit for our own salvation. Psalm 13:5-6; John 17:6-26, Romans 6:1-2, 1Thessalonians 5:5-11.

Attractiveness: A victorious life should be attractive to other people. John 7:37-39, Acts 16:25-34.

Teaching: Jesus told his disciples to teach all nations, and to make disciples of converts. Converts should learn from the Bible on their own, and be part of a teaching church. Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke24:45-49, 2 Peter 3:17-18.

Immortality: Believers, whose sins have been paid for, are promised immortality with Christ. Ephesians 1:11-14, Romans 6:23

Overcoming: The church, and individual Christians, seem to be weak, at times. But Christ has promised that the true church – composed of actual believers, not necessarily church members – will endure. Matthew 16:18, Revelation 2:8-11.

New life, with purpose, and with fruit: Those who have experienced salvation should manifest the Fruit of the Spirit. (Galatians5:22-23) They will also participate, often with others, in attracting new believers, especially by serving, giving, testifying and praying. John 15:8, Acts 6:7, 11:27-29, Romans 12:4-8, Matthew 25:31-46. They will have intimacy with God. Matthew 10:16-20, John 14:16-16:15.

I have probably left out important concepts, and important scripture passages. Let me know if you think of such, in a comment, if you can. Thanks for reading. 

*  *  *  *  *
 
On September 5, 2016, the links to scripture -- ESV -- were added.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

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)