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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Comments now screened -- sorry

I'm sorry. I know how annoying it is to have to type in something like


Xpdqef  742

when you can only half read the letters and numbers, in order to make a comment, because most of the blogs I comment on require this. But I'm just getting too many spam comments.

So I've turned word recognition on. (Again)

Thanks for reading (and commenting).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sunspots 403

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
 
Science:  National Public Radio reports that sweet potatoes most likely originated in the Americas, and that some of them were taken to Asia by traffic between what is now Latin America and Polynesia, all before Columbus came from Europe.

The Atlantic reports on using DNA to store information, such as the works of Shakespeare.

The Washington Post reports that dogs, who descended from wolves, had a change in diet preference, associated with becoming and remaining domestication.

NPR says that, instead of flu, you may have a Norovirus, which, if anything, is worse.

The Arts:  A James Kibble has recorded all of the organ works of J. S. Bach for free download.

Computing: A social scientist has shown that people are reluctant to wipe the memory of robots, even if they understand that these are not real people.

Image source (public domain)

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Big Bang, second edition

I understand that there are conservative Christians who reject the idea of a Big Bang. I suppose that most of these, at least the ones who can give a good reason for such rejection, do so either because they believe that the earth is only a few thousand years old, or because, in their minds, the Big Bang is associated with evolution, which they reject.

As to the first, it is possible, indeed, that the earth is only a few thousand years old. (But see this post, and others, on a book by a believing Christian, scientist, and Bible scholar, David Snoke, entitled A Biblical Case for an Old Earth.) Even if the earth were only a few thousand years old, the Bible does not explicitly say that the universe is the same age as the earth. I don't see anything in the Bible that would rule out an ancient universe.

I also take two Biblical statements seriously. These are Psalm 19:1-4 and Romans 1:20, both of which tell us that one of God's ways of revealing himself to us is through what nature tells us. Much of what nature tells us, especially about things which are very small, very large, or very far away, or were very long ago, can come to us only though scientific findings. These findings may be mistaken at times, but they should certainly not be rejected out of hand. There is good scientific evidence that there was a Big Bang, and that it took place a very long time ago.

The Big Bang was not proposed as some sort of anti-God crusade. On the contrary, the first good evidence for a Big Bang was discovered by accident, by scientists who weren't looking for such evidence. The Big Bang, as an explanation for the origin of the universe as we know it, is taken by some scientists, even unbelieving scientists, as evidence for the existence of a divine Creator. For example, here's what the late Robert Jastrow wrote, about the discovery of evidence for the Big Bang, in his book, God and the Astronomers:
For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. (New York: Warner Books, 1978, pp. 105-106.) Jastrow, according to the Wikipedia article on him, was not a Christian, but an agnostic. However, he believed that science had no explanation for what came before, or caused, the Big Bang, and acknowledged that the Judeo-Christian religions do have an explanation, namely that an eternal God began the universe with a supernatural act, or acts, such as the Big Bang. When the Big Bang theory was first proposed, as Jastrow indicated, there were scientists who were pretty upset about the idea, because there was no good explanation for what caused it, or what, if anything, came before it. There still isn't an explanation that has been proved experimentally, although there have been attempts at such explanations, most notably by Stephen Hawking.

Acceptance of the idea of a Big Bang was slow. The evidence for a Big Bang is good, considering how long ago it would have happened, and the idea is accepted by most scientists. The evidence for it, to me, is an important part of God's revelation to us.

As to the connection to evolution, there is no direct connection. In the first place, evolution, like any controversial subject, should be defined before it is discussed at all. This, unfortunately, happens only rarely. In the second place, evolution is a biological process. The Big Bang was a physical process.

What Christians should be concerned about, even if they have the wrong name for it, is not evolution, but naturalism. That's what most conservative Christians really mean when they say that they don't believe in evolution. (At least some types of evolution, biological processes, are well established. The most ardent Young-Earth Creationist scientists believe that humans evolved into more than one type since the time of Noah, for example.) Naturalism is the idea that there are natural, as opposed to supernatural, explanations for everything. It is, therefore, a form of atheism. Naturalism is believed by many scientists, and others, although there is no definitive evidence for it. The most prominent naturalist is Richard Dawkins, a competent biologist, but also a popular writer, crusading against Christianity and other religions. But even Dawkins does not claim that he has disproved God's existence, which would prove naturalism.

The Bible begins with a statement that, if true, destroys naturalism: In the beginning, God created . . . Genesis 1 doesn't tell us when, why, or how. It does tell us that there was a Who. Naturalism says that there wasn't, and isn't, any Who. Christians believe that there was, and is. Undoubtedly, some people who believe in naturalism do so because, if it were true, it would mean that there are no Divinely created moral laws, and they want to believe that there aren't any such.

If someone says that the Big Bang event proves that there is no God, they are mistaken. There is no such proof. On the contrary, supposing that God started the universe with a Big Bang makes good sense. If someone says that evolution, however defined, proves that there is no God, they are similarly mistaken. There is no such proof. On the contrary, God may have used natural selection, the Big Bang, or both, as part of His method of making things like they are now. As I see it, knowledge and prior planning like that would be as wonderful, or more so, as creating every type of atom, and every type of living thing, from scratch.

As Hebrews 11 puts it: 3 By faith, we understand that the universe has been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things which are visible (World English Bible, public domain).

This post is revised from a previous one, now removed. Thanks for reading.

Note added, August 1, 2013. Commenter Laginestra (see below) points out that the Big Bang theory doesn't actually describe the origin of the universe, but the early development of the the universe. In other words, it doesn't specify where the universe, if it began with a big bang, came from. The universe had to be present, in some form, before there could have been a big bang. However, most people, including me at times, don't realize that, or don't make that distinction. Stephen Hawking is one scientist who has attempted to explain the origin of the universe. I thank the commenter for that important distinction.

Added, May 17, 2014. Here's a good article on the history of the discovery of the evidence for the Big Bang. The article also considers the possibility of multiple universes.

Added, May 29, 2014. Here's a good article the history of the idea of a Big Bang. Fred Hoyle, apparently an atheist, believed in a steady-state universe, one which didn't need some sort of start, apparently for religious reasons. (He was anti-Christian and anti-Jewish.) Hoyle is responsible for the term, "Big Bang," which was meant to be a mockery of the idea.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Prayer and a Definite Religious Standard, part 2

Prayer believes in, and seeks for the very highest religious life set before us in the Word of God. Prayer is the condition of that life. Prayer points out the only pathway to such a life.The standard of a religious life is the standard of prayer. Prayer is so vital, so essential, so far-reaching, that it enters into all religion, and sets the standard clear and definite before the eye. The degree of our estimate of prayer fixes our ideas of the standard of a religious life. The standard of Bible religion is the standard of prayer. The more there is of prayer in the life, the more definite and the higher our notions of religion.
The Scriptures alone make the standard of life and experience. When we make our own standard, there is delusion and falsity for our desires, convenience and pleasure form the rule, and that is always a fleshly and a low rule. From it, all the fundamental principles of a Christly religion are left out. Whatever standard of religion which makes in it provision for the flesh, is unscriptural and hurtful.Nor will it do to leave it to others to fix the standard of religion for us. When we allow others to make our standard of religion, it is generally deficient because in imitation, defects are transferred to the imitator more readily than virtues, and a second edition of a man is marred by its defects.

- 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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

On the Ten Commandments - What the Bible says

The Ten Commandments, in the context of the entire Bible



The Ten Commandments (quoted from the World English Bible, public domain)
Old Testament
New Testament
Exodus 20: (Deuteronomy 5 repeats this.)
Matthew 5:17 Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill. (Also Matt. 19:17-20)
1 You shall have no other gods before me.
(The Bible doesn't number the Commandments.)
Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and you shall serve him only.’”
2 You shall not make for yourselves an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
1 Corinthians 8:4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no other God but one. 5 For though there are things that are called “gods”, whether in the heavens or on earth; as there are many “gods” and many “lords”; 6 yet to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we live through him.
3 You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain
James 5:12 But above all things, my brothers, don’t swear— not by heaven, or by the earth, or by any other oath; but let your “yes” be “yes”, and your “no”, “no”; so that you don’t fall into hypocrisy
4 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. You shall labor six days, and do all your work

(The principles of this command, worship with others, rest, still hold.)
Mark 2:27 He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Romans 14:5 One man esteems one day as more important. Another esteems every day alike. Let each man be fully assured in his own mind. 6a He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.
The Sabbath was from at sundown on Friday through sundown on Saturday. Seventh Day Adventists observe this now.
5 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.
Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever may tell his father or his mother, “Whatever help you might otherwise have gotten from me is a gift devoted to God,” 6 he shall not honor his father or mother.’ You have made the commandment of God void because of your tradition.
6 You shall not murder.
Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to the ancient ones, ‘You shall not murder;’ and ‘Whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I tell you, that everyone who is angry with his brother without a cause will be in danger of the judgment (Several translations don’t say “without a cause.”)
7 You shall not commit adultery.
Matthew 5:27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery;’ 28 but I tell you that everyone who gazes at a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
8 You shall not steal.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, producing with his hands something that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need
9 You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
John 5:31 “If I testify about myself, my witness is not valid. 32 It is another who testifies about me. I know that the testimony which he testifies about me is true. (Included in Matthew 19:17-20)
10 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, . . . your neighbor’s wife, . . . nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
Luke 12:15 He said to them, “Beware! Keep yourselves from covetousness, for a man’s life doesn’t consist of the abundance of the things which he possesses.”




The Ten Commandments don’t mention love, and nothing in them forbids hypocrisy. Jesus took care of hypocrisy – see His take on the 6th & 7th above – our motives are critically important. Love was covered in Deuteronomy 6:5: You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Also, in Leviticus 19:18a You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. In Mark 12:28-34 (Also in Matthew 22:35-40, Luke 10:25-37) Jesus affirmed these two, as the most important commandments. Both, especially the first, were known to the Jews of His day.

Commandments 1-4 are about our relationship to God. 5-10 are about our relationship to others.
Except for the literal 4th Commandment, all of the Ten were affirmed in the New Testament, and Jesus told His followers to rest, and we are admonished to worship with others, in the New Testament, too. Much of the Jewish law, however, does not apply to us. In Acts 15, the early church decided that Gentile believers should not be required to follow almost all of the Jewish laws, such as dietary regulations. We do not sacrifice as the Jews did.

The Ten Commandments are about things we shouldn’t do. Stealing is a sin of commission. In addition to things we should not do, there are things that we should do. If we don’t do them, we have committed a sin of omission: James 4:17 To him therefore who knows to do good, and doesn’t do it, to him it is sin. (See also Matthew 25:31-45.)

A summary commandment, for 5-10, is the Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

We can’t keep any set of commandments in our hearts without the help of the Holy Spirit.

For Old Testament summaries, see Deuteronomy 10:12 Now, Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 to keep Yahweh’s commandments and statutes, which I command you today for your good? Also:
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good.
What does Yahweh require of you, but to act justly,
to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

The Ten Commandments were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:20), also called Mt. Horeb (Deuteronomy 5:5).
It wasn’t just Moses who interacted with God. Exodus 24, we read:
3 Moses came and told the people all Yahweh’s words, and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words which Yahweh has spoken will we do.”
4 Moses wrote all Yahweh’s words, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the mountain, and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of cattle to Yahweh. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 He took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people, and they said, “All that Yahweh has spoken will we do, and be obedient.”
8 Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which Yahweh has made with you concerning all these words.”
9 Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. 10 They saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was like a paved work of sapphire stone, like the skies for clearness. 11 He didn’t lay his hand on the nobles of the children of Israel. They saw God, and ate and drank.
12 Yahweh said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and stay here, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commands that I have written, that you may teach them.”
13 Moses rose up with Joshua, his servant, and Moses went up onto God’s Mountain. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us, until we come again to you. Behold, Aaron and Hur are with you. Whoever is involved in a dispute can go to them.”

Neither Exodus 20, nor Deuteronomy 5, have the phrase, “Ten Commandments,” nor are they numbered in either place, but see:
Exodus 34:27 Yahweh said to Moses, “Write you these words: for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 He was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread, nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

The Ten Commandments (possibly other laws, too) were written on stone by God, Himself: Deuteronomy 4:13 He declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even the ten commandments. He wrote them on two stone tablets. (Also 5:22)

Exodus 32:19 tells us that Moses broke the tablets they were written on. In Exodus 34, Moses was commanded to make two new stone tablets, and God re-wrote the Ten Commandments on them. In Exodus 25:10-16, Moses was instructed that the stone tablets were to be placed in the Ark of the Covenant, which was in the Tabernacle, later in the Temple.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul referred to the Ten Commandments, on their tablets of stone, as follows:
3:2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being revealed that you are a letter of Christ, served by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tablets of stone, but in tablets that are hearts of flesh.

Thanks for reading. See here for the Biblical usages of the words adultery and and fornication.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fornication: What does it mean in the Bible?

Some versions of the Bible use the word fornication. Here's a link to a word search for that word in the King James Version, from the Blueletter Bible. There are over 30 occurrences there.

Adultery
I have, until recently, supposed that fornication refers to casual sex, between people who aren't married to each other, or to anyone else, whether they are living together, or engage in "one-night stands." In fact, the Wikipedia backs that up: "Fornication typically refers to consensual sexual intercourse between two people not married to each other." I also supposed that the Bible forbids such behavior. That is a common view among Christians.
The Blueletter Bible gives an Outline of Biblical Usage for μοιχεύω, moicheuō, the Greek word translated as adultery, as follows:
1) to commit adultery
a) to be an adulterer
b) to commit adultery with, have unlawful intercourse with another's wife
c) of the wife: to suffer adultery, be debauched
d) A Hebrew idiom, the word is used of those who at a woman's solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols

Except for the last one, this matches current usage.

Uses of the word, fornication, in the Bible
But things aren't that simple for fornication. Fornication has a wider Biblical usage, in those Bible translations that use it, than the one given above.

A look at the list of occurrences of fornication in the King James shows that, of the 30-plus occurrences of the word, several do not refer to sexual activity at all, but to idol worship. In fact, the four uses in the Old Testament are all about idol worship, not sexual activity.

The Blueletter Bible also gives an Outline of Biblical Usage for πορνεία, porneia, the Greek work translated as fornication in the King James and other versions:

1) illicit sexual intercourse
a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12
2) metaph. the worship of idols
a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

In other words, the meaning of fornication, in some versions of the Bible, is much broader than the common current definition. Like "charity" in 1 Corinthians 13, the meaning has changed. It's no wonder that several versions of the Bible don't use it, or use it less. The New King James has about half as many occurrences as the King James. The New International Version, the New Living Translation, and the English Standard Version don't use the word at all. The New American Standard Bible uses it only four times, all in the New Testament.

God's plan
The Bible definitely forbids adultery, which is when a married person has sexual relations with someone who is not their marriage partner. See here for the Ten Commandments, which forbid adultery. It also condemns homosexual activity, rape, seduction, prostitution and patronizing prostitutes, as well as having sex with animals and close relatives or in-laws. (Except for the first one, the links in the previous sentence do not reference all the Biblical statements on the particular subject.) However, to my amazement, I can not find an explicit statement forbidding living with someone, in a heterosexual relationship, without being married to that person, except that Jesus did point out that the woman at the well was living with a man, but was not married to him. I also can not find a statement forbidding casual one-time consensual, non-commercial sex, unless it's the statement on seduction. Here's a good article on sexual immorality in the Bible, and there's no such situation mentioned. If you find Biblical statements on these, which don't use the word fornication, please let me know. Comments may be made below, or, if you know my e-mail address, or how to contact me personally, please e-mail me or tell me. Thanks.

Does this mean that casual sex, or cohabitation without marriage, is OK? No. One possible reason why these sorts of behavior may not be spoken of is that the opportunity may have been rare. There are statements condemning sex with someone who is engaged to someone else in the Old Testament. As indicated in the story of Mary and Joseph, engagement (KJV "espoused to") seems to have been a more serious matter than it is in most of present-day North America. Most likely, young people were engaged earlier than most couples are engaged today, and, therefore, sex with another single person may have usually been covered under the prohibition against having sex with someone who was engaged. There may have been few, or no, non-engaged persons to have sexual relations with. A second reason may be that not having sexual relations of the kind at the beginning of this paragraph isn't specifically prohibited would have been understood. There are things that everybody knew in Bible times that we don't know. To take a trivial example, most pictures and movies that show Jesus show Him with a beard. But the Bible says nothing about that. Most likely, every male wore a beard in those days, and there was no reason to explain it. When the best modern translations tell us to avoid sexual immorality, in Acts 15, most likely casual sex and cohabitation were part of what was understood to be included in that prohibition. We should have that understanding today.

There's another, more important reason why casual sex, or cohabitation, aren't explicitly condemned. That reason is that God's best plan for relationships is for a woman and a man to be married to each other. This is presented, in various ways, throughout the entire Bible, from Adam and Eve in Genesis through the church as the Bride of Christ in Revelation, and often in between. Some of the presentations in the Bible are of relationships that have gone wrong, and are presented as such, such as the stories of David and Bathsheba, of Hosea and his unnamed wife, or the picture of Israel as God's faithless wife in Ezekiel 16. Some, like the relationship between Mary and Joseph, or between Priscilla and Aquila, are presentations of relationships that have measured up to God's plan. God's plan, heterosexual monogamy, presented in various ways, some most dramatic, argues against various perversions by showing what the way ought to be.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sunspots 402

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

Science:  Fox News reports that there may be devastating solar storms this year.

The Arts: (Actually, education) Seattle teachers have refused to administer a state-mandated test to their students, according to NPR.

Politics: (or Christianity) Wired reports on a student who was told she had to cease attending a public high school because she wouldn't wear an RFID chip in her school lanyard (on the grounds that that is related to the mark of the beast. It's a complex story.


Freebook Sifter lists many free books available in Kindle format, complete with the number of reviews, and the average number of stars in the reviews for each book. It's not just a list. You can browse by topics and subtopics. Gizmo's Freeware, where I saw this listed, says that some of the books on the list are not free, presumably because Amazon or the publisher has changed the price.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prayer and a Definite Religious Standard, part 1, by E. M. Bounds

Much of the feebleness, barrenness and paucity of religion results from the failure to have a Scriptural and reasonable standard in religion, by which to shape character and measure results; and this largely results from the omission of prayer or the failure to put prayer in the standard. We cannot possibly mark our advances in religion if there is no point to which we are definitely advancing. Always there must be something definite before the mind’s eye at which we are aiming and to which we are driving. We cannot contrast shapeliness with unshapeliness if there be no pattern after which to model. Neither can there be inspiration if there be no high end to stimulate us.
Many Christians are disjointed and aimless because they have no pattern before them after which conduct and character are to be shaped. They just move on aimlessly, their minds in a cloudy state, no pattern in view, no point in sight, no standard after which they are striving. There is no standard by which to value and gauge their efforts. No magnet is there to fill their eyes, quicken their steps, and to draw them and keep them steady.
All this vague idea of religion grows out of loose notions about prayer. That which helps to make the standard of religion clear and definite is prayer. That which aids in placing that standard high is prayer. The praying ones are those who have something definite in view.In fact prayer itself is a very definite thing, aims at something specific, and has a mark at which it aims. Prayer aims at the most definite, the highest and the sweetest religious experience.The praying ones want all that God has in store for them. They are not satisfied with anything like a low religious life, superficial, vague and indefinite. The praying ones are not only after a “deeper work of grace,” but want the very deepest work of grace possible and promised. They are not after being saved from some sin, but saved from all sin, both inward and outward. They are after not only deliverance from sinning, but from sin itself, from its being, its power and its pollution. They are after holiness of heart and life.

- 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, January 19, 2013

"Father" differs in frequency in the gospels

I recently did a search for occurrences of the word, "father," in the Bible. I wasn't looking for it, but was struck by the number of times it was used in each of the four gospels.

Here's a link to the results of that search, using the English Standard Version.

The frequencies in the four gospels are these:

in Matthew: 70. 15 of these are in the genealogies at the beginning of Matthew. 15 are in the Sermon on the Mount, where something like "your Father which is in heaven" occurs frequently. There are 40 more references. It seems clear that Matthew wanted his readers to think of Christ (and themselves) in relationship to God the Father.

in Mark: 17. Most of these refer to an earthly father, not to God the Father.

in Luke: 41. 9 of these are from the parable of the Prodigal Son. Roughly half of the rest relate to God the Father.

in John: 108! I found that number to be astounding, especially considering that John doesn't have genealogies, or the parable of the Prodigal Son. Most of the statements are about God the Father. I suppose that the most significant is John 10:10, where Jesus said that He and the Father were one.

The frequent use, especially in John, indicates that Jesus, and the gospel writers, believed that the idea of a relationship with God the Father, through the Son, was important.

Thanks for reading. Read the gospels.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sunspots 401

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

Humor: (or manufacturing) Wired examines the question of why LEGO sets are so expensive, and comes up with some answers.

Science:  Wired reports on a giant prehistoric swimming predator, with five-inch teeth.

Wired also tells us that Crows react based on what they think other crows know.

The Arts: Christianity Today has published its list of the 10 "most redeeming films" of 2012.
 
Christianity:  He Lives attempts to define faith. It's not easy.

Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength has been analyzing some of the books in the New Testament mathematically (frequency of words used). Her conclusions are interesting.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Prayer and Consecration, part 7, by E. M. Bounds

The spirit of consecration is the spirit of prayer. The law of consecration is the law of prayer. Both laws work in perfect harmony without the slightest jar or discord. Consecration is the practical expression of true prayer. People who are consecrated are known by their praying habits. Consecration thus expresses itself in prayer. He who is not interested in prayer has no interest in consecration. Prayer creates an interest in consecration, then prayer brings one into a state of heart where consecration is a subject of delight, bringing joy of heart, satisfaction of soul, contentment of spirit. The consecrated soul is the happiest soul. There is no friction whatever between him who is fully given over to God and God’s will. There is perfect harmony between the will of such a man and God, and His will. And the two wills being in perfect accord, this brings rest of soul, absence of friction, and the presence of perfect peace. 

- 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.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Alternative to iGoogle

iGoogle, which has enabled me to have a home page that shows, or links to, almost everything I use, is going away for good in November.

I have previously posted on alternatives to this program. Currently, I am using FVD Speed Dial in parallel with iGoogle, and have come to rely on it.

FVD Speed Dial, which lets me set up a screen full of icons that I make, from the web site's web page. I have set my FVD page up to open automatically whenever I open a new tab. My FVD Speed Dial page can be synchronized across computers. The program is free, and works with both Firefox and Google Chrome. I see 18 icons -- meaning links to 18 web pages, on opening, and can scroll down to 12 more. I could add more icons (or speed dials) if I want to.

I have posted previously on other replacements to iGoogle.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Sunspots 400

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

Science:  He Lives points out that science is not only compatible with Christianity, but with atheism, Buddhism, etc.
 
The Arts: Wired begins a weekly post on "stunning architecture" with a photo of a 3-dimensional (what else?) building that looks 2-dimensional.

Politics: (or something) Columnist DeWayne Wickham reminds us that school children, lots of them, have been killed in other places than Newton, Mass.
 
Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reviews free substitutes for Microsoft Office.

Gizmo's Freeware also describes free music writing software.

Gizmo also has a link to a site that will tell you what cookies a web page wants to put in your computer.

 

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Fox News: Healthcare spending not growing rapidly, but we spend more than any other nation

A recent report on Fox News (from the AP) says that healthcare spending, which has been growing faster than the economy for several years, has only been growing about as fast as the economy for the past three years, which is good news. The fact that the US still spends ". . . far more than any other economically advanced country spends" is not good news. And that was in 2011, before much, if any, of so-called Obamacare took effect.

The report goes on to say that this would be a good time for Congress and the President to do something serious about the growth of healthcare spending, which most likely will go back to increasing soon, if they don't.

Thanks for reading.

For more information on healthcare spending, see a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has several useful tables and graphs, and also this Wikipedia article.

Monday, January 07, 2013

". . . until the moon is no more."

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.
They shall fear you while the sun endures;
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
He will come down like rain on the mown grass,
as showers that water the earth.
In his days, the righteous shall flourish,
and abundance of peace, until the moon is no more.
(World English Bible, public domain. This was apparently written by Solomon.)

I recently attended a worship service, where the above passage was part of the scripture reading for the day. I had never noticed the emphasized phrase, or verse 5, which is similar. These are striking phrases!
I can find no scientific predictions that the moon is going to disappear from the sky anytime soon, presumably because it will eventually fall into the earth.
This is poetry, not astronomy or geology, and Solomon may have just been using a figure of speech. I don't know. But my guess is that he was referring prophetically to Christ's reign, with will last forever. Amen.
Thanks for reading.


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Prayer and Consecration, part 6, by E. M. Bounds

We must mention a truth which is strangely overlooked in these days by what are called personal workers, that in the Epistles of Paul and others, it is not what are called Church activities which are brought to the front, but rather the personal life. It is good behaviour, righteous conduct, holy living, godly conversation, right tempers—things which belong primarily to the personal life in religion. Everywhere this is emphasised, put in the forefront, made much of and insisted on. Religion first of all puts one to living right. Religion shows itself in the life. Thus is religion to prove its reality, its sincerity and its Divinity.
The first great end of consecration is holiness of heart and of life. It is to glorify God, and this can be done in no more effectual way than by a holy life flowing from a heart cleansed from all sin. The great burden of heart pressed on every one who becomes a Christian lies right here. This he is to ever keep in mind, and to further this kind of life and this kind of heart, he is to watch, to pray, and to bend all his diligence in using all the means of grace. He who is truly and fully consecrated, lives a holy life. He seeks after holiness of heart. Is not satisfied without it. For this very purpose he consecrates himself to God. He gives himself entirely over to God in order to be holy in heart and in life.
As holiness of heart and of life is thoroughly impregnated with prayer, so consecration and prayer are closely allied in personal religion. It takes prayer to bring one into such a consecrated life of holiness to the Lord, and it takes prayer to maintain such a life. Without much prayer, such a life of holiness will break down. Holy people are praying people. Holiness of heart and life puts people to praying. Consecration puts people to praying in earnest. Prayerless people are strangers to anything like holiness of heart and cleanness of heart. Those who are unfamiliar with the closet are not at all interested in consecration and holiness. Holiness thrives in the place of secret prayer. The environments of the closet of prayer are favourable to its being and its culture. In the closet holiness is found. Consecration brings one into holiness of heart, and prayer stands hard by when it is done.

- 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.