License

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. You can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it. If you give me credit, thanks. If not, OK.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Sunspots 773


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

Christianity: Relevant tells us about St. Patrick.

Relevant also tells us some things to remember when we get anxious.


Computing: Gizmodo compares several streaming services.

Finance: FiveThirtyEight tells us that the restaurant business is hurting badly, and gives state-by-state data. Restaurant employees, or suddenly laid off workers, are hurting even worse.

Health: Lifehacker tells us why we shouldn't name diseases after locations.

The virus is everywhere! Grammarphobia tells us what "deadly" means.

Politics: (and Health and Finance) Gizmodo reports on some Senators who may have had advance warning of a stock market collapse, and who sold stock before the panic set in.


(and Health and Education) Relevant reports that a Liberty University professor has openly criticized Jerry Falwell, head of the University, for his bizarre theories on the origin of COVID-19, and for requiring employees to work on campus. Here's more on that same story, from later, also from Relevant, which may explain Falwell's actions, at least to some extent.


Science: The Scientist reports that some beetle larvae are able to live and grow on polystyrene, a plastic. This may mean that there is hope for getting out from under the load of plastic we are adding to the environment.

The Scientist also reports on the skull of a very tiny dinosaur, preserved in amber.

Gizmodo reports on NASA's detailed photographs of an asteroid that is scheduled to be landed on, sampled, and have the samples returned to earth.

FiveThirtyEight describes how COVID-19 tests actually work.

Sports: March Madness, sort of. FiveThirtyEight describes the women's NCAA basketball tournament that wasn't.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, 26

This is the final excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer:

‘And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’  Our daily bread, the pardon of our sins, and then our being kept from all sin and the power of the evil one, in these three petitions all our personal need is comprehended.  The prayer for bread and pardon must be accompanied by the surrender to live in all things in holy obedience to the Father’s will, and the believing prayer in everything to be kept by the power of the indwelling Spirit from the power of the evil one. Children of God! it is thus Jesus would have us to pray to the Father in heaven.  O let His Name, and Kingdom, and Will, have the first place in our love; His providing, and pardoning, and keeping love will be our sure portion.  So the prayer will lead us up to the true child-life:  the Father all to the child, the Father all for the child.  We shall understand how Father and child, the Thine and the Our, are all one, and how the heart that begins its prayer with the God-devoted THINE, will have the power in faith to speak out the OUR too.  Such prayer will, indeed, be the fellowship and interchange of love, always bringing us back in trust and worship to Him who is not only the Beginning but the End:  ‘FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER, AMEN.’  Son of the Father, teach us to pray, ‘OUR FATHER.’

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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Sunspots 772


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


Christianity: (And Politics) Christianity Today reports on a survey that indicates that most white evangelicals do not like the President's behavior, but do like some of the policies that he has pushed. 

Christianity Today reports that regular church-goers are less likely to perceive the threat of the COVID-19 virus.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports on a site that helps you be really private when on-line.

Listverse tells us about 10 flaws of the Wikipedia. (I still use it)l
 
Health: (or something) Listverse debunks some myths about washing your clothes.

A COVID19 tracker, that gives numbers of those testing positive and negative in each state, and the numbers of deaths.

(and Politics) Relevant reports that Jerry Falwell, head of Liberty University, believes that the recent virus outbreak was caused deliberately by North Korea, and maybe China, or was a politically motivated attempt to bring down President Trump. The Scientist, on the other hand, reports that at least one Chinese official says that the US started the spread of the disease in China. (President Trump has also complained about this action by some part of the Chinese establishment.)

History: Gizmodo reports on recent discoveries related to ritualistic sports, involving a court, and a rubber ball, in Mesomerica.

Relevant reports that Martin Luther had some good advice for communities threatened with a pandemic.

Science: The Scientist reports that some beetle larvae are able to live and grow on polystyrene, a plastic. This may mean that there is hope for getting out from under the load of plastic we are adding to the environment.

The Scientist also reports on the skull of a very tiny dinosaur, preserved in amber.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 24

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be another excerpt from this discussion, posted next Sunday:

‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.’  As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness for the soul.  And the provision for the one is as sure as for the other.  We are children but sinners too; our right of access to the Father’s presence we owe to the precious blood and the forgiveness it has won for us.  Let us beware of the prayer for forgiveness becoming a formality:  only what is really confessed is really forgiven.  Let us in faith accept the forgiveness as promised:  as a spiritual reality, an actual transaction between God and us, it is the entrance into all the Father’s love and all the privileges of children. Such forgiveness, as a living experience, is impossible without a forgiving spirit to others: as forgiven expresses the heavenward, so forgiving the earthward, relation of God’s child. In each prayer to the Father I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not heartily love.

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.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Sunspots 771

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

Christianity: Relevant reports on a study that showed that graduates of Christian colleges care more about others, and less about making money, than graduates of secular universities.

Relevant also tells us about 4 things that Jesus never said, but that He is often, er, said to have said.

And a Relevant writer says that Christianity isn't just a relationship, but it's a religion.

And Relevant interviews Eugene Cho, new leader of Bread for the World. Cho has a lot to say about Christians and politics.

He Lives reminds us that not everything created on day six was good.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware suggests a program that will help you recover log-ins and product keys.

Politics: (sort of) Gizmodo reports that adding more lanes to highways increases highway congestion.

(and Christianity) Relevant reports that President Trump, once more, disputes Christ's teachings about dealing with one's enemies.


Science: (and Health) NPR reports that gene repair on a person (not on a cell culture), to cure a specific disease, has been attempted.

NPR also reports that global warming is affecting grasshoppers, and that may be a warning for the rest of us.

Gizmodo reports that there may be an explanation for dark matter, and that the explanation involves newly conceived configurations of quarks.

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

Thanks for looking!

Monday, March 09, 2020

Was the original creation perfect?

Many Christians believe that the creation was perfect before the Fall. Perhaps. But the Bible doesn't really say that.

A search for the Hebrew word meaning "perfect," in the Blueletter Bible, from the King James Version, results in 91 instances, in 85 verses. (If anyone needs reminding, the Old Testament was mostly in Hebrew, and the New Testament was mostly in Greek, so searching for a Hebrew word doesn't result in any New Testament occurrences.) The first three instances of "perfect" are as follows: The superscript, and/or link, right after the word, perfect, below, is a link to the results of the broader search.

 Gen 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect H8549 in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

 Gen 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfectH8549

 Exo 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, H8549 a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

These three instances refer to the attitudes of two humans, servants of God, and to an animal sacrifice. Most of the uses of perfect in the Old Testament are like these.

A search for "good" also gives results. The first occurrences are in Genesis 1-3, about some aspect of created entities -- "behold, it was good," or "it was very good."

Then, there are the next two occurrences, one of which is translated into a different English word, rather than good:

Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; H2896 and they took them wives of all which they chose.

Gen 15:15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good H2896 old age.

One of these is a description of female attractiveness, and one is related to living a good, long life.

However attractive a woman might be, or, actually, several women, it is hard to believe that they were all perfect, or perfectly attractive. Close, maybe, but not perfect. And it is difficult to believe that a good, long life (Abraham's is the one in Genesis 15) was perfect. He was a good man, an example of faith, but he made some mistakes, and fell short of perfection. He allowed his wife to talk him into siring a child with a servant girl, and he lied to other men, saying that Sarah wasn't his wife, when she was. Most likely, there were other failings, not mentioned specifically in the Bible. His life was good, not perfect.

The word perfect is not used in describing the created world. Rather, "good," or "very good," is found in the first part of Genesis. I checked the translations of Genesis 1:31, which summarizes God's creative activity, and none of the English versions of the Bible use the word, perfect, which, as shown above, was used in other places in the Old Testament. They all use very good.

For this, and other reasons, it appears that saying that the world, as created, was perfect, is reading something into scripture that isn't there.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 08, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 23

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be more excerpts from this discussion later:

‘Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.’  This petition is too frequently applied alone to the suffering of the will of God. In heaven God’s will is done, and the Master teaches the child to ask that the will may be done on earth just as in heaven:  in the spirit of adoring submission and ready obedience.  Because the will of God is the glory of heaven, the doing of it is the blessedness of heaven.  As the will is done, the kingdom of heaven comes into the heart.  And wherever faith has accepted the Father’s love, obedience accepts the Father’s will.  The surrender to, and the prayer for a life of heaven-like obedience, is the spirit of childlike prayer.

‘Give us this day our daily bread.’  When first the child has yielded himself to the Father in the care for His Name, His Kingdom, and His Will, he has full liberty to ask for his daily bread.  A master cares for the food of his servant, a general of his soldiers, a father of his child.  And will not the Father in heaven care for the child who has in prayer given himself up to His interests?  We may indeed in full confidence say:  Father, I live for Thy honour and Thy work; I know Thou carest for me.  Consecration to God and His will gives wonderful liberty in prayer for temporal things:  the whole earthly life is given to the Father’s loving care.


This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Sunspots 770


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


Christianity: Christianity Today has posted an annotated list of important African-American theologians.


And a Christianity Today writer discusses her same-sex attraction.


Relevant reports that church membership is related to age -- older people are more likely to be members, and that a substantial minority of Christians are going to more than one church.


Computing: Gizmo's Freeware points us to thousands of sounds that can be used freely.
 
Environment: (And Christianity) A good article in Relevant on why Christians care for the environment.Health: Joel Duff has been thinking about the so-called Corona virus, and doubts that the US response is sufficient.

Politics: Relevant reports on a study that shows President Trump's popularity is significantly less among women.

Science: There's an article in New Scientist, stating that earth has acquired another moon, which is about the size of a car.

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

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Answers in Genesis believes in evolution, although it's reluctant to use that word

Lest there be any doubt, Answers in Genesis believes in evolution, although it is reluctant to use that word: A museum exhibit about the processes associated with “natural selection” and “speciation” throws much light on such questions. Noah actually only needed about 16,000 animals on the Ark to represent all the distinct kinds of land-dwelling animals. The above quote was taken from an AiG source, and is part of the explanation as to how the ark could have held enough animals to become so many species. How? because natural selection after the flood led to abundant speciation!

If natural selection and speciation aren't part of evolution, in fact most of it, I'm not sure what evolution means. Darwin's book title began like this: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection... See here for more on AiG's proposals on how so many animal types came to be.

See here for unrelated problems with the AiG source, which is an attempt to portray the scope of human history.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, 22

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be more excerpts from this discussion later:

‘Hallowed be Thy name.’ What name? This new name of Father. The word Holy is the central word of the Old Testament; the name Father of the New. In this name of Love all the holiness and glory of God are now to be revealed.  And how is the name to be hallowed?
By God Himself: ‘I will hallow My great name which ye have profaned.’ Our prayer must be that in ourselves, in all God’s children, in presence of the world, God Himself would reveal the holiness, the Divine power, the hidden glory of the name of Father.  The Spirit of the Father is the Holy Spirit: it is only when we yield ourselves to be led of Him, that the name will be hallowed in our prayers and our lives. Let us learn the prayer: ‘Our Father, hallowed be Thy name.’


‘Thy kingdom come.’  The Father is a King and has a kingdom.  The son and heir of a king has no higher ambition than the glory of his father’s kingdom.  In time of war or danger this becomes his passion; he can think of nothing else.  The children of the Father are here in the enemy’s territory, where the kingdom, which is in heaven, is not yet fully manifested.
What more natural than that, when they learn to hallow the Father-name, they should long and cry with deep enthusiasm:  ‘Thy kingdom come.’  The coming of the kingdom is the one great event on which the revelation of the Father’s glory, the blessedness of His children, the salvation of the world depends.  On our prayers too the coming of the kingdom waits. Shall we not join in the deep longing cry of the redeemed:  ‘Thy kingdom come’?  Let us learn it in the school of Jesus.


This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Sunspots 769


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

Christianity: Christianity Today discusses polyamory among professing Christians.


Christianity Today also has a good article on why the Old Testament continues to be important.

CT has also posted information on 20 African-American heroes and heroines of faith.

Computing: (and Politics) Gizmodo reports that Twitter has taken action against some pro-Bloomberg accounts, for publishing pro-Bloomberg spam.
  Humor: (and Computing) A Gizmodo writer has found women's pants with pockets large enough to hold a smartphone.


Politics: (And Christianity) Russell Moore, head of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has been an outspoken critic of President Trump. Authorities in the church are apparently going to study the question of whether Moore's positions have hurt the denomination financially, according to Relevant. In a later post, Relevant reports that the ERLC board has instructed Moore not to comply with such an inquiry, at least not at present.

Joel Edmund Anderson asks us to not be hyper-partisan, in any direction.

Science: The Scientist reports on recent discoveries in human anatomy. You would think that we already knew all there is to know about our structure. Not so. For example, there's a bone that I don't think you have heard of.

The Scientist also reports on the use of artificial intelligence to discover new antibiotics.

NPR reports on the terrible locust plague in Africa.

NPR, and other outlets, report that Katherine Johnson, one of the African-American mathematicians who worked on the manned space program, has died. (The movie, Hidden Figures, was based on the critical work of these women.)

Sports: Sabrina Ionescu, who plays basketball for Oregon, had quite a day on February 24th. She was one of the speakers at the memorial service for Kobe Bryant, and also became the only college basketball player, male or female, to score 2000+ career points, give out 1000+ assists, and collect 1000+ rebounds. She got the qualifying rebound on the 24th, against Stanford.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 21

This is another excerpt from Murray's discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be more excerpts from this discussion later:

‘Hallowed be Thy name.’ There is something here that strikes us at once. While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and His interests, the Master reverses the order. First, Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will; then, give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us. The lesson is of more importance than we think.  In true worship the Father must be first, must be all.  The sooner I learn to forget myself in the desire that HE may be glorified, the richer will the blessing be that prayer will bring to myself.  No one ever loses by what he sacrifices for the Father.

This must influence all our prayer.  There are two sorts of prayer:  personal and intercessory. The latter ordinarily occupies the lesser part of our time and energy.  This may not be.  Christ has opened the school of prayer specially to train intercessors for the great work of bringing down, by their faith and prayer, the blessings of His work and love on the world around.  There can be no deep growth in prayer unless this be made our aim.  The little child may ask of the father only what it needs for itself; and yet it soon learns to say, Give some for sister too.  But the grown-up son, who only lives for the father’s interest and takes charge of the father’s business, asks more largely, and gets all that is asked.  And Jesus would train us to the blessed life of consecration and service, in which our interests are all subordinate to the Name, and the Kingdom, and the Will of the Father.  O let us live for this, and let, on each act of adoration, Our Father! there follow in the same breath Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy Will;—for this we look up and long.


This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Sunspots 768


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

Christianity: Christianity Today discusses the matter of celibacy in priests, in an article with links to several related articles, some from quite some time back.

(and Politics) Relevant has an article which attempts to explain white evangelicals' support for President Trump. The author rejects anti-abortion as being too simple an explanation. For one thing, there were several candidates for President in 2016 who were anti-abortion. For another, recent polls show that terrorism, immigration and health care, not abortion, are the current top 3 issues for white evangelicals. There are other reasons given, that indicate that abortion isn't the main issue. The author concludes that "white evangelicals are ready for someone who punches back on their behalf," and that they feel marginalized by society.


Computing: (and more, including medical ethics) BioLogos has a fine, and thoughtful, article on transhumanism, from the viewpoint of a Christian thinker. Transhumanism is, for example, making our eyes more able to focus at long distances than they naturally can.

Environment: Numerous outlets report that Antarctica has recently had its highest temperature ever recorded.
Health: (and Politics) In the Trump budget proposal, funds to help other countries detect new outbreaks of infectious diseases has been drastically cut.

Politics: Relevant, and other outlets, report on past racist and sexist comments, and probably attitudes, of Michael Bloomberg.

Gizmodo/Earther criticizes a plan to plant a trillion trees. There are other, more effective, things we should do, like cutting back on fossil fuel consumption.

Science: National Public Radio reports on findings that suggest that long-ago humans must have mated with a hitherto unknown human-like species, in Africa. There is already good evidence that many of us have some Neanderthal DNA, and people from Oceania may have DNA from Denisovans, another group, also long extinct. More on this story, from The Scientist, which has links to related material.

From Listverse: 10 amazing scientific phenomena caught on video.

The Scientist reports on composting human remains.


Sports: (and Health) Gizmodo reports on a study showing brain impairment (perhaps temporary) in soccer players who hit the ball with their heads.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 20

We now come to a discussion of the Lord's Prayer. God willing, there will be more excerpts from this discussion later.

The Model Prayer.
‘After this manner therefore pray ye:  Our Father which art in heaven.’—Matt. vi. 9.

EVERY teacher knows the power of example.  He not only tells the child what to do and how to do it, but shows him how it really can be done.  In condescension to our weakness, our heavenly Teacher has given us the very words we are to take with us as we draw near to our Father.  We have in them a form of prayer in which there breathe the freshness and fulness of the Eternal Life.  So simple that the child can lisp it, so divinely rich that it comprehends all that God can give.  A form of prayer that becomes the model and inspiration for all other prayer, and yet always draws us back to itself as the deepest utterance of our souls before our God.


‘Our Father which art in heaven!’  To appreciate this word of adoration aright, I must remember that none of the saints had in Scripture ever ventured to address God as their Father.  The invocation places us at once in the centre of the wonderful revelation the Son came to make of His Father as our Father too.  It comprehends the mystery of redemption—Christ delivering us from the curse that we might become the children of God.  The mystery of regeneration—the Spirit in the new birth giving us the new life.  And the mystery of faith—ere yet the redemption is accomplished or understood, the word is given on the lips of the disciples to prepare them for the blessed experience still to come.  The words are the key to the whole prayer, to all prayer.  It takes time, it takes life to study them; it will take eternity to understand them fully.  The knowledge of God’s Father-love is the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in the school of prayer.  It is in the personal relation to the living God, and the personal conscious fellowship of love with Himself, that prayer begins.  It is in the knowledge of God’s Fatherliness, revealed by the Holy Spirit, that the power of prayer will be found to root and grow.  In the infinite tenderness and pity and patience of the infinite Father, in His loving readiness to hear and to help, the life of prayer has its joy.  O let us take time, until the Spirit has made these words to us spirit and truth, filling heart and life:  ‘Our Father which art in heaven.’  Then we are indeed within the veil, in the secret place of power where prayer always prevails.


This post continues what is intended to be 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.