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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Predestination, foreknowledge and choice

Predestination, foreknowledge, and free choice
The above graphic is an attempt to illustrate a controversial and complex subject, predestination, foreknowledge, and free choice. (The word, eternity, isn't completely shown in the illustration, on purpose, to symbolize the boundlessness of eternity.) The graphic should serve as a link to the original graphic on Flickr. Flickr members, at least, and perhaps others -- I'm not sure -- can see larger sizes of the graphic, by clicking on the magnifying glass icon above the graphic on its Flickr page. There is no password required to view Flickr pictures.

I believe that the Bible teaches that people have the ability to choose, at least in some areas. Here's some of the evidence.

The Bible also teaches predestination, for example in the verses quoted above, which are from Romans 8:
28 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 29 Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified. (World English Bible, public domain)

As I understand things, God is outside of time. Consider this: I think that Jane Smith is going to enter a situation that I wish to pray about, at two in the afternoon, and pray for this at that time. However, without my knowledge, the situation actually occurred three hours earlier. God could have taken my praying into account when influencing the situation, even though I hadn't prayed yet when it happened, because God knew that I would, and, in fact, God had experience my prayer when the event happened. God's knowledge, or foreknowledge, doesn't mean that I didn't have a choice about whether to pray. I did. But God knew that I would.

The graphic incorporates an image of General George Washington crossing the Delaware. I modified it by rotating it horizontally.

Thanks for looking! Make right choices.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunspots 394

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

Science: A National Public Radio report that says that fetuses yawn while in the womb.

National Public Radio also reports on two very long-term experiments, at Michigan State University. One of them was begun in 1879. The other, on bacterial evolution, began in 1988. (For the Wikipedia article on the second experiment, see here.)

The New York Times has an interactive set of maps, showing what parts of several metropolitan areas would become submerged, if the ocean rose to 5, 12, or 25 feet above its current level.

The Arts:  (and computing) A novel is itself a kind of advanced Turing test, in which a writer tries to convince readers that lifeless signs on a page are not just real intelligences moving through the real world, but actual human beings, with lustful urges, deep regrets and breakable hearts. As this novel demonstrates, part of the challenge of giving a machine a truly human intelligence is making it sound humanly unreasonable. Turing predicted that in order to pass his test, a machine would have to fool a judge at least 30 percent of the time, but Scott Hutchins, in this charming, warmhearted and thought-provoking novel, already has that beat. Quoting James Hynes, "Fooled You," review of A Working Theory of Love, by Scott Hutchins. New York Times Book Reviews, November 21, 2012. For more on the Turing test, see here.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Prayer and God's work, part 6, by E. M. Bounds

We cannot wonder that so little is accomplished in the great work in the world which God has in hand. The fact is that it is surprising so much has been done with such feeble, defective agents. “Holiness to the Lord” needs again to be written on the banners of the Church. Once more it needs to be sounded out in the ears of modern Christians. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

Let it be iterated and reiterated that this is the Divine standard of religion. Nothing short of this will satisfy the Divine requirement. O the danger of deception at this point! How near one can come to being right and yet be wrong! Some men can come very near to pronouncing the test word, “Shibboleth,” but they miss it “Many will say unto me, Lord, Lord, in that day,” says Jesus Christ, but He further states that then will He say unto them, “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”


Men can do many good things and yet not be holy in heart and righteous in conduct. They can do many good things and lack that spiritual quality of heart called holiness. How great the need of hearing the words of Paul guarding us against self-deception in the great work of personal salvation:


“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”


- From The Essentials of Prayer, by E. M. Bounds.

Although E. M. Bounds died in 1913, this book was first published in 1925, by an admirer of the author's life. Bounds was known for praying from four until seven each morning.

This post is one of a series, taken from The Essentials of Prayer, by Bounds. Found through the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, here. The Essentials of Prayer is in the public domain. The previous post in the entire series on the book is here. Thanks for reading. Read this book, and, more importantly, practice, prayer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sunspots 393

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

Science:  The Register reports on the discovery of a planet that's not orbiting a star.

Sports: Wired has an interview with the author of a book on luck and skill. In the interview, the author says that, of team sports, basketball is most influenced by the skill of the players, as opposed to luck, and he tells us why that is so. (The interview is about other interesting things, too.)

The Arts: I haven't seen Lincoln yet, but Wired has what I take to be a solid review of the film, including statements on who should, and should not, see it.

Politics:  Conservative Christian, and columnist, Cal Thomas has some advice for his conservative Christian colleagues, in the wake of the recent election. Good advice.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I'm thankful for refraction!

refraction - ball point pen in water
 I'm thankful for refraction. Without it, the ball point pen above would have appeared to be quite straight. As a matter of fact, it was quite straight. But when light travels from one medium to another (water and air in this case), and the velocity of light in the two mediums is not the same, we can get refraction, the bending of light. Without this phenomenon, the camera that I used to take this picture wouldn't have worked, and without it, your eyes wouldn't have been able to see the image properly. Lenses in cameras and eyes (and eyeglasses and contacts) use refraction in order to function. (I know, there was some refraction when the light went between the glass and the air, or the water and the glass, or the glass and the water, but let's not go there!)

Refraction is an amazing phenomenon, and I'm grateful for it!

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm thankful for ignorance.

I'm thankful for ignorance -- mine, not yours -- because it's fun learning new things, or re-learning things I've forgotten, and I think that doing so is part of the image of God in humans. Babies are learning stuff all the time, so it's normal to want to learn things. We sometimes wonder, "What good is it to accumulate knowledge?" But there is potential good in learning.

I'm also thankful for God's ignorance. He forgets forgiven sin!

It is possible that God has set limits on knowing, in the universe that He has created, such that even He, abiding by those limits, does not know everything. I am referring to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. I don't, if you will excuse the expression, know whether God is able to supersede the limits to human knowledge set by that principle. I also refer to the incompleteness theorems of Kurt Gödel, which say, more or less, that any mathematical system will be based, in part, on ideas, axioms, or statements that can't be proved -- in other words, there will always be doubt as to the rigor and consistency of mathematics. Again, I think it possible that God knows whether any axiom or statement is true or not, but it is also possible that God is Self-limited in this area, too.

It is also possible that God allows real randomness in the universe.

Thanks for reading! I learn things, or re-learn things, in the process of blogging.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Prayer and God's Work, part 5, by E. M. Bounds

One statement of Wesley needs to be repeated with emphasis. The littleness of grace, rather than the smallness of gifts,—this is largely the case with the preachers. It may be stated as an axiom: That the work of God fails as a general rule, more for the lack of grace, than for the want of gifts. It is more than this. It is more than this, for a full supply of grace brings an increase of gifts. It may be repeated that small results, a low experience, a low religious life, and pointless, powerless preaching always flow from a lack of grace. And a lack of grace flows from a lack of praying. Great grace comes from great praying.

“What is our calling’s glorious hope
But inward holiness?
For this to Jesus I look up,
I calmly wait for this.
“I wait till He shall touch me clean,
Shall life and power impart;
Give me the faith that casts out sin,
And purifies the heart.”


In carrying on His great work in the world, God works through human agents. He works through His Church collectively and through His people individually. In order that they may be effective agents, they must be “vessels unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” God works most effectively through holy men. His work makes progress in the hands of praying men. Peter tells us that husbands who might not be reached by the Word of God, might be won by the conversation of their wives. It is those who are “blameless and harmless, the sons of God,” who can hold forth the word of life “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.”


The world judges religion not by what the Bible says, but by how Christians live. Christians are the Bible which sinners read. These are the epistles to be read of all men. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The emphasis, then, is to be placed upon holiness of life. But unfortunately in the present-day Church, emphasis has been placed elsewhere. In selecting Church workers and choosing ecclesiastical officers, the quality of holiness is not considered.


The praying fitness seems not to be taken into account, when it was just otherwise in all of God’s movements and in all of His plans. He looked for holy men, those noted for their praying habits. Prayer leaders are scarce. Prayer conduct is not counted as the highest qualification for offices in the Church.

- From The Essentials of Prayer, by E. M. Bounds.

Although E. M. Bounds died in 1913, this book was first published in 1925, by an admirer of the author's life. Bounds was known for praying from four until seven each morning.

This post is one of a series, taken from The Essentials of Prayer, by Bounds. Found through the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, here. The Essentials of Prayer is in the public domain. The previous post in the entire series on the book is here. Thanks for reading. Read this book, and, more importantly, practice, prayer.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

God doesn't know everything -- He forgets forgiven sin

God is omniscient -- He knows everything. But there is at least one limit. That Self-imposed limit is that God forgets forgiven sin.

I quote the evidence, using the World English Bible, which is in the public domain:

Isaiah 43:25 I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake;
and I will not remember your sins.

Micah 7:18 Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity,
and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage?
He doesn’t retain his anger forever,
because he delights in loving kindness.
19 He will again have compassion on us.
He will tread our iniquities under foot;
and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

There are also pleas that God would forget past sins:
Psalm 25:7 Don’t remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions.
Remember me according to your loving kindness,
for your goodness’ sake, Yahweh.

Isaiah 64:9 Don’t be furious, Yahweh,
and don’t remember iniquity forever.
Look and see, we beg you,
we are all your people.

Thanks for reading!



Friday, November 16, 2012

Bible passages indicating that humans can choose salvation (or not)

I am aware that there are those, and they may be right, who believe that we can't really choose whether ot not to accept Christ's resurrected sacrifice for our sins, and His lordship. However, there are some Bible passages that indicated that we do have a choice in the matter. I will give them below, without presenting the Biblical evidence to the contrary -- and there is such evidence. See the Wikipedia article on predestination.

All quotations are from the World English Bible, which is public domain.

Some of these passages don't seem to say anything directly about free choice, but I have also included passages that indicate that salvation is for all people.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

Acts 2:21 It will be that whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Romans 5:17 For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ. 18 So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life.

Romans 10:13 For, “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (This quotes Leviticus 18:5, as does Acts 2:21.)

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all; the testimony in its own times;

1 Timothy 4:10 For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we have set our trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

1 John 2:2 And he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” He who hears, let him say, “Come!” He who is thirsty, let him come. He who desires, let him take the water of life freely.

Thanks for reading!

* * * * *
Added November 29, 2012: I have now posted a graphic attempt to explain predestination, foreknowledge and choice, with some explanation.




Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sunspots 392

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

Science:  Naked mole rats don't get cancer, or at least don't die from it, according to a report in Wired, which report also indicates the mechanism of protection.

Sports: Sports Illustrated has posted their version of the 100 greatest sports photos of all time.
 
Politics:  The transcript of re-elected President Obama's speech.

Henry Neufeld points out two extreme reactions to the Obama victory. An owner of a coal company read a prayer to some of his employees, and then fired 156 of them, because, he said, of the election results. A self-identified Libertarian advised people to remove anyone who voted Democrat from their Facebook Friend list, and men (No corresponding advice to women) to break up with a girlfriend, or divorce a spouse, who voted Democratic. (He said more than that, but that's enough.)

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Psalm 72 on government assistance to the poor

Psalm 72:God, give the king your justice;
your righteousness to the royal son.
He will judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice.
The mountains shall bring prosperity to the people.
The hills bring the fruit of righteousness.
He will judge the poor of the people.
He will save the children of the needy,
and will break the oppressor in pieces
12 For he will deliver the needy when he cries;
the poor, who has no helper.
13 He will have pity on the poor and needy.
He will save the souls of the needy. (World English Bible, public domain)
I had never seen this, but I should have. Psalm 72, apparently written by either David or Solomon, speaks of the government -- which, in those days, was the king -- saving the children of the needy, having pity on the poor and needy, and delivering them. Presumably, this should have included material blessings. In other words, the Psalm seems to be condoning, even expecting, that the government, and/or the rich, would help the poor.
There are plenty of Old Testament passages about God's displeasure when those in power treat the poor unjustly. This one indicates His pleasure when they help the poor.
This post is a reaction to a better post on the same subject, governmental assistance to the poor, by Ken Schenck, Bible scholar.
Thanks for reading.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm thankful for the Fabaceae (pea family)

Soybean pods Abbeville Co, SC, sooc
Soybean pods (legumes) against a November sky. Abbeville County, South Carolina.


Purple wild peas
Purple flower of wild pea plant, Pickens County, South Carolina. (Both photos are links to the originals, in my Flickr photostream.)

The photos above are of just two representatives of the enormous, and enormously important, pea family, also known as legumes, or Fabaceae. Why are they important? Let me count the ways. Rather, let me list just some of the members of this family:

peanuts
soybeans
beans (many kinds)
peas (many kinds)
clover (many kinds)
alfalfa
carob
licorice

Peanuts and soybeans are important crops. According to this source, we exported $16 billion worth of soybeans and soybean products in a recent year. See here for the Wikipedia article section on soybean use. Uses include oil, tofu, edamame, and many other food uses. Peanuts are also noted for having many uses, including, of course, peanut butter. See here for the Wikipedia reference. Beans and peas, of many kinds, are eaten in many ways. Alfalfa and clover are important cattle food. Clover is used as an ornamental, too.

One reason that the members of this family are so important in human diets is that the family is rich in protein. One reason for that is that the plants have nodules on their roots, where Nitrogen-fixing bacteria live, in a mutually beneficial association with the peas, beans, etc. There is some gaseous Nitrogen in the air, and there is air in the soil, usually. The bacteria take some of this Nitrogen, and change it into amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Glycine is one of the amino acids. Glycine is also the scientific name of soybeans. Since we must have protein for almost every biological function -- it's essential for all of our cells -- having a source of protein is critical for human diets, and members of the pea family are good sources of protein. Vegetarians, and people who can't afford to eat meat, generally eat beans and peas and other members of the pea family as protein sources.

It is probable that Daniel and his friends persuaded the Babylonian officials to let them eat members of the pea family, as part of their diet, rather than the meats the rest of the trainees ate. The Prodigal Son was probably feeding carob pods to the pigs. Carob is used to make a chocolate substitute.

I'm thankful to God for the bounty of the pea family! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Prayer and God's Work, part 4, by E. M. Bounds

If it be contended that the work of God is progressing, and that we are growing in holiness, then some perplexing questions arise which will be hard to answer. If the Church is making advances on the lines of deep spirituality—if we are a praying people, noted for our prayer habits—if our people are hungering after holiness—then let us ask, why do we now have so few mighty outpourings of the Holy Spirit on our chief churches and our principal appointments? Why is it that so few of our revivals spring from the life of the pastor, who is noted for his deep spirituality, or the life of our church? Is the Lord’s hand shortened that He cannot save? Is His ear heavy that He cannot hear? Why is it that in order to have so-called revivals, we must have outside pressure, by the reputation and sensation of some renowned evangelist? This is largely true in our larger charges and with our leading men. Why is it that the pastor is not sufficiently spiritual, holy and in communion with God, that he cannot hold his own revival services, and have large outpourings of the Holy Spirit on the Church, the community and upon himself? There can be but one solution for all this state of things. We have cultivated other things to the neglect of the work of holiness. We have permitted our minds to be preoccupied with material things in the Church. Unfortunately, whether designedly or not, we have substituted the external for the internal. We have put that which is seen to the front and shut out that which is unseen. It is all too true as to the Church, that we are much further advanced in material matters than in matters spiritual.
 

But the cause of this sad state of things may be traced further back. It is largely due to the decay of prayer. For with the decline of the work of holiness there has come the decline of the business of praying. As praying and holiness go together, so the decline of one, means the decay of the other. Excuse it if we may, justify the present state of things if we will, yet it is all too patent that the emphasis in the work of the present-day Church is not put on prayer. And just as this has occurred, the emphasis has been taken from the great work of God set on foot in the atonement, holiness of heart and life. The Church is not turning out praying men and women, because the Church is not intently engaged in the one great work of holiness.

- From The Essentials of Prayer, by E. M. Bounds.

Although E. M. Bounds died in 1913, this book was first published in 1925, by an admirer of the author's life. Bounds was known for praying from four until seven each morning.

This post is one of a series, taken from The Essentials of Prayer, by Bounds. Found through the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, here. The Essentials of Prayer is in the public domain. The previous post in the entire series on the book is here. Thanks for reading. Read this book, and, more importantly, practice, prayer.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Epistemic closure

I learned a new phrase yesterday, "epistemic closure." See here for the Wikipedia article on the subject. The article says:

The term "epistemic closure" has been used in US political debate to refer to the claim that the belief systems of political conservatives are closed systems of deduction, which cannot be affected by empirical evidence.

In other words, political conservatives don't listen to facts that contradict their belief systems. They tend to listen to conservative talk radio, watch only Fox News news and commentary, follow right-wing web sites, and read conservative-leaning newspapers.

The article is actually mostly about the theory of knowledge, as a philosophical matter, and the sentence quoted above is almost all it says about politics.

There have been recent examples of epistemic closure in political discourse. One of these is the mis-prediction of right-wing political "experts" on how the recent Presidential election would turn out, most famously Fox's Karl Rove doubting that the Fox News experts had called Ohio correctly, and reports that Mr. Romney, himself, on election night, didn't believe that he could lose. Other news sources, and the Obama campaign, believed, in the days before the election, that Mr. Obama would be re-elected.

Another example relates to Hurricane Sandy. The Wikipedia can be edited by anyone. (I have edited it a little myself, but not on substantive political matters.) A report, based on analysis of who was doing the Wikipedia editing, says that a single individual deliberately kept references to global climate change out of the Wikipedia article on Hurricane Sandy for several days, because he didn't believe there was any such thing. (I credit The Foundry for much of the information referenced above.) The article on Hurricane Sandy does, now, refer to global climate change.

Epistemic closure by right-wingers is bad enough. However, I'm sure that the Left has its own epistemic closure, and that's bad, too. But, far more serious, is epistemic closure about eternal things. I am epistemically closed about salvation. I believe that I have a sin problem, which condemns me to eternal separation from God and the good. I believe that the only solution is to accept the sacrifice of the crucified and risen Christ, and go on to follow Him as Lord of my life. Can I prove this? No. I seldom even read or listen to sources that discredit these views, or think about them. I'm epistemically closed. There are those with other views, of course.

I recently had an on-line discussion with an atheist, who asked why an all-powerful god would be so concerned about sin, and why a blood sacrifice was necessary to pay for it. These are good questions. I attempted to answer them, and some others did, too, but I doubt that this person was much impressed -- he has his own epistemic closure about this subject.

I believe that there's a sin problem in the world, and Christ is the solution. I hope you do, too.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Text Mechanic

Here's some text from Through the Looking-glass, by Lewis Carroll (public domain):

'Well, in OUR country,' said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else—if you ran very fast for a long time, as we've been doing.'
'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, HERE, you see, it takes all the running YOU can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'

Here's the same text, given randomize case changes:
 'WEll, in OuR CountRy,' saiD alIce, StilL PAntING A lITTLE, 'YOU'D gEnERAllY get To sOmEWHere ElSE—iF you Ran VErY FAsT fOr a lonG tIme, aS We'vE BEen dOing.'

'A SlOw SoRt Of CouNTRY!' sAiD tHe qUeen. 'NoW, HERe, yOu see, it taKEs ALl ThE runninG YOU cAn Do, TO KEep In thE sAme pLacE. if YOU wANt TO gET SOmeWheRe eLse, yoU MUSt Run AT LEAst TWiCE As FasT as THat!'

The transformation was done with Text Mechanic, a free on-line service, which allows all sorts of manipulations of text.

For example, here's text from a .PDF version of The Essentials of Prayer, by E. M. Bounds, also public domain:

Prayer, praise and thanksgiving all go in company. A close relationship exists between
them. Praise and thanksgiving are so near alike that it is not easy to distinguish between
them or define them separately. The Scriptures join these three things together. Many are
the causes for thanksgiving and praise. The Psalms are filled with many songs of praise and
hymns of thanksgiving, all pointing back to the results of prayer. Thanksgiving includes
gratitude. In fact thanksgiving is but the expression of an inward conscious gratitude to God
for mercies received. Gratitude is an inward emotion of the soul, involuntarily arising therein,
while thanksgiving is the voluntary expression of gratitude.


It's not obvious, I guess, but there are line breaks at the end of each line, which means that things can look pretty awkward, depending on the width of the text when used.

I pasted the same text into the "Add/Remove line breaks" portion of Text Mechanic, asking that each line break be replaced with a space, and here's the result:
Prayer, praise and thanksgiving all go in company. A close relationship exists between them. Praise and thanksgiving are so near alike that it is not easy to distinguish between them or define them separately. The Scriptures join these three things together. Many are the causes for thanksgiving and praise. The Psalms are filled with many songs of praise and hymns of thanksgiving, all pointing back to the results of prayer. Thanksgiving includes gratitude. In fact thanksgiving is but the expression of an inward conscious gratitude to God for mercies received. Gratitude is an inward emotion of the soul, involuntarily arising therein, while thanksgiving is the voluntary expression of gratitude.

No line breaks!

Here's my name, Martin LaBar, in binary:
01001101 01100001 01110010 01110100 01101001 01101110 00100000 01001100 01100001 01000010 01100001 01110010.

Thanks for reading!

Here's "Thanks for reading" in hexadecimal code:
(I removed;#x and ; which are delimiters)
54 68 61 6e 6b 73 20 66 6f 72 20 72 65 61 64 69 6e 67 21



Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Sunspots 391

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
 
Science:  The Scale of the Universe is a web page that shows you objects from the yoctometer range through a Gigaparsec, which is roughly 10 to the 25th power meters. This web page took a little time to get started, then worked fine.

Wired reports that an elephant can say five words in the Korean language.

(or education) Wired reports that doing math problems is, indeed, painful for some people.

Politics:  (or something) Wired reports on technology developments that could make it even easier for the President (whoever he is) to take out bad guys. Clearly, these developments also pose potential dangers.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Skepticism and Atheism

The Skeptical Zone has a most interesting post, which argues that atheists are most likely deceived. The argument is based on logic.

Monday, November 05, 2012

I'm thankful for sugars

I'm thankful for sugars. Not only do I like to eat them -- more than I should -- but they are extremely important. Persons in need of serious medical attention are often given glucose. A sugar is the product of photosynthesis, so that all other types of food molecule are produced from sugar. Cellulose, found in paper and some types of fabric, and in wood, is a polymer of sugar. DNA and RNA, which control the structure of cells, and, ultimately, the characteristics of living things, including individual humans, have a sugar as one of their building blocks.

The writer of Proverbs warned about being too much in love with sweetness: 
25:16 Have you found honey?
Eat as much as is sufficient for you,
lest you eat too much, and vomit it.

 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Prayer and God's Work, part 3, by E. M. Bounds

We might as well face the situation first as last. There is no use to shut our eyes to real facts. If the Church does not do this sort of work—if the Church does not advance its members in holiness of heart and life—then all our show of activities and all our display of Church work are a delusion and a snare.

But let us ask as to another large and important class of people in our churches. They are the hope of the future Church. To them all eyes are turned. Are our young men and women growing in sober-mindedness and reverence, and in all those graces which have their root in the renewed heart, which mark solid and permanent advance in the Divine life? If we are not growing in holiness, then we are doing nothing religious nor abiding.


Material prosperity is not the infallible sign of spiritual prosperity. The former may exist while the latter is significantly absent. Material prosperity may easily blind the eyes of Church leaders, so much so that they will make it a substitute for spiritual prosperity. How great the need to watch at that point! Prosperity in money matters does not signify growth in holiness. The seasons of material prosperity are rarely seasons of spiritual advance, either to the individual or to the Church. It is so easy to lose sight of God when goods increase. It is so easy to lean on human agencies and cease praying and relying upon God when material prosperity comes to the Church.


- From The Essentials of Prayer, by E. M. Bounds.

Although E. M. Bounds died in 1913, this book was first published in 1925, by an admirer of the author's life. Bounds was known for praying from four until seven each morning.

This post is one of a series, taken from The Essentials of Prayer, by Bounds. Found through the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, here. The Essentials of Prayer is in the public domain. The previous post in the entire series on the book is here. Thanks for reading. Read this book, and, more importantly, practice, prayer.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Gratitude for Bible translators

I'm thankful for people I don't think about much -- Bible translators, some long since passed away, some still at work, in English and many other languages. Thanks to them, I can read the Bible in several versions of my "heart language." Most other people in the world can do the same, in at least one version, in theirs. There are people who work in Bible translation, some for a lifetime. Others, missionaries, who have found that the group they are working with needs to have God's Word in their own language, so they do it out of necessity, and still others who are working to translate the Bible into their own language, because no one else has. They all deserve my praise, and prayer support.

Thanks for reading!