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I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
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The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. 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, July 28, 2021

Sunspots 843

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:

Christianity: (and computing) Gizmodo reports on initiatives by


Facebook to introduce features for the use of Christian churches and denominations. Gizmodo is wary of such initiatives. Relevant also reports on this, with similar concerns.

A Relevant writer on lusting after women because of what they are wearing.

Education: Grammarphobia tells us about the origin of the phrase "the coast is clear."

Environment: Gizmodo reports that the Great Salt Lake is at its lowest recorded level.

Politics: (or something) Relevant reports that sending behavior specialists, rather than armed police, to certain kinds of calls is a successful strategy.

Science: Gizmodo on what Neanderthals looked like.

Sports: Some Gizmodo contributors give their takes on which Olympic sport is most difficult. They do not agree, because, at that level, they are all difficult.

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

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, July 26, 2021

Hebrews 2 on Christ and creation

Hebrews 1:1 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 1:2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds. 1:3 His Son is the radiance of his glory, the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power … (World English Bible, public domain)

If you ask the average believer to tell you which of the three persons of the Trinity was most important in creation, most of them will say that it was the Father. The passage above, and others, such as John 1:1-3, indicate that the correct answer to that question is the Son.

Hebrews 1 also indicates that the role of the Son was not confined to getting things started, but also is sustaining - "upholding all things by the word of his power ...." Christ, God the Son, seems to be holding the universe, and the subatomic particles in my brain, together. How? I don't know. Colossians 1:16-17 reinforces that idea. Praise to the Son, redeemer, creator and sustainer!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 85

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. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

O Lord Jesus! how continually Thou hast to reprove us for our unbelief! How strange it must appear to Thee, this terrible incapacity of trusting our Father and His promises. Lord! let Thy reproof, with its searching, ‘Because of your unbelief,’ sink into the very depths of our hearts, and reveal to us how much of the sin and suffering around us is our blame.And then teach us, Blessed Lord, that there is a place where faith can be learned and gained,—even in the prayer and fasting that brings into living and abiding fellowship with Thyself and the Father.
O Saviour! Thou Thyself art the Author and the Perfecter of our faith; teach us what it is to let Thee live in us by Thy Holy Spirit. Lord! our efforts and prayers for grace to believe have been so unavailing. We know why it was: we sought for strength in ourselves to be given from Thee. Holy Jesus! do at length teach us the mystery of Thy life in us, and how Thou, by Thy Spirit, dost undertake to live in us the life of faith, to see to it that our faith shall not fail. O let us see that our faith will just be a part of that wonderful prayer-life which Thou givest in them who expect their training for the ministry of intercession, not in word and thought only, but in the Holy Unction Thou givest, the inflowing of the Spirit of Thine own life. And teach us how, in fasting and prayer, we may grow up to the faith to which nothing shall be impossible. Amen

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Sunspots 842

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:



Education: Grammarphobia discusses the origin of the phrase "tossing and turning."

Environment: NPR on recycling plastic -- what really helps, and what doesn't.

Gizmodo on why TV news does such a bad job at reporting on climate change.

Gizmodo also reports that poor neighborhoods, all over the USA, suffer more from heat waves.

And Gizmodo reports on how wild hogs are having a serious effect on climate.

Gizmodo also reports on the environmental costs of shipping goods into North America.

Ethics: (and Science) Gizmodo reports on guidelines for human genetic engineering, produced by a World Health Organization group. In summary, the group is not ready to approve such procedures.

Science: (or something) Relevant reports on a survey that indicates that most couples become romantically involved after months or years as friends, rather than falling in love the first time they see each other.

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

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, July 18, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 84

 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. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

Disciples of Jesus! who have asked the Master to teach you to pray, come now and accept His lessons. He tells you that prayer is the path to faith, strong faith, that can cast out devils. He tells you: ‘If ye have faith, nothing shall be impossible to you;’ let this glorious promise encourage you to pray much. Is the prize not worth the price? Shall we not give up all to follow Jesus in the path He opens to us here; shall we not, if need be, fast? Shall we not do anything that neither the body nor the world around hinder us in our great lifework,—having intercourse with our God in prayer, that we may become men of faith, whom He can use in His work of saving the world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Sunspots 841

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:



Christianity: (and politics) Christianity Today has an article on how some charismatic leaders realized that they had been wrong about Donald Trump being ordained of God to be re-elected, Some of them confessed this wrong, but in some cases there was serious backlash about such repentance.

Health:  (or not) Gizmodo has prepared an exhibit, describing the seven worst charlatans of the pandemic.

Humor: (or something) A YouTube video, a minute long, showing an astronaut attempting to assemble a Lego object while in zero gravity.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight on the growing influence of news networks further to the right than Fox News, on Republicans.

Gizmodo reports that the government forgave some small business loans to organizations that spread anti-vaccination propaganda.

Science: A BioLogos writer examines reasons why we might want to colonize Mars, and finds them not sufficient.

Gizmodo reports that Chinese scientists have produced hair-sized (and shaped) ice fibers that are elastic -- they can be bent out of shape and return to the original shape.

Gizmodo discusses heat waves. An interesting fact (not the only one) is that there is no generally accepted definition of heat waves.

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

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 93

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. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

But then there is also its more literal meaning. Sorrow and anxiety cannot eat: joy celebrates its feasts with eating and drinking. There may come times of intense desire, when it is strongly felt how the body, with its appetites, lawful though they be, still hinder the spirit in its battle with the powers of darkness, and the need is felt of keeping it under. We are creatures of the senses: our mind is helped by what comes to us embodied in concrete form; fasting helps to express, to deepen, and to confirm the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, to sacrifice ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God. And He who accepted the fasting and sacrifice of the Son, knows to value and accept and reward with spiritual power the soul that is thus ready to give up all for Christ and His kingdom.
And then follows a still wider application. Prayer is the reaching out after God and the unseen; fasting, the letting go of all that is of the seen and temporal. While ordinary Christians imagine that all that is not positively forbidden and sinful is lawful to them, and seek to retain as much as possible of this world, with its property, its literature, its enjoyments the truly consecrated soul is as the soldier who carries only what he needs for the warfare.Laying aside every weight, as well as the easily besetting sin, afraid of entangling himself with the affairs of this life, he seeks to lead a Nazarite life, as one specially set apart for the Lord and His service. Without such voluntary separation, even from what is lawful, no one will attain power in prayer: this kind goeth not out but by fasting and prayer.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Sunspots 840

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:


The Arts: Some Gizmodo writers reflect on what the earliest human music was like.

Environment: (And politics) Gizmodo on right-wing outrage at suggestions that climate change may lead to problems, such as the condo collapse in Florida.

Gizmodo reports on (sort of) sunscreen for roads, which apparently cuts down on heat and pollution.

Finance: Relevant reports that we may soon see advertisements in our dreams.

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

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 92

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 hereAs usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

And prayer needs fasting for its full growth: this is the second lesson. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible; fasting, the other, with which we let loose and cast away the visible. In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need of food, and his enjoyment of it. It was the fruit, good for food, with which man was tempted and fell in Paradise. It was with bread to be made of stones that Jesus, when an hungered, was tempted in the wilderness, and in fasting that He triumphed. The body has been redeemed to be a temple of the Holy Spirit; it is in body as well as spirit, it is very specially, Scripture says, in eating and drinking, we are to glorify God. It is to be feared that there are many Christians to whom this eating to the glory of God has not yet become a spiritual reality. And the first thought suggested by Jesus’ words in regard to fasting and prayer, is, that it is only in a life of moderation and temperance and self-denial that there will be the heart or the strength to pray much.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Sunspots 839

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to others*:



Environment: (and Politics) Gizmodo reports that the US Chamber of Commerce has been denying climate change for years.

Finance: (or something) According to Politifact, prominent TV preachers Charles Stanley, Pat Robertson, and Joel Osteen are not selling cannabis products.

Food: NPR reports on nut thefts: Organized criminals are stealing pistachios and almonds,

Politics: Florida now has a law that expects universities to keep track of the beliefs of employees and students, according to Relevant.

According to Gizmodo, Florida has also given fossil fuels an advantage in energy sources.

Pornography: With considerable reluctance, I have added this category to my weekly sunspots. It's important, and it keeps coming up. I will not knowingly link directly to any pornographic sites.

Relevant gives us some misconceptions about sex trafficking and pornography.

Science: Astronomers have been thinking about the possibility of intelligent life on other planets detecting earth, according to NPR.

The Scientist reports on cicada holes, which are more permanent than some other animal-produced holes in the ground, and which have important effects on the microbes in the soil, and on the atmosphere. There are lots and lots of such holes.

Gizmodo reports that there are underground (and frozen) lakes on Mars.

Gizmodo reports on the collision of a black hole and a neutron star. 

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

*I try not to include items that require a password or fee to view.

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 91

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. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

There is a second, more general lesson: our daily life in the world is made the test of our intercourse with God in prayer. How often the Christian, when he comes to pray, does his utmost to cultivate certain frames of mind which he thinks will be pleasing. He does not understand, or forgets, that life does not consist of so many loose pieces, of which now the one, then the other, can be taken up. Life is a whole, and the pious frame of the hour of prayer is judged of by God from the ordinary frame of the daily life of which the hour of prayer is but a small part. Not the feeling I call up, but the tone of my life during the day, is God’s criterion of what I really am and desire. My drawing nigh to God is of one piece with my intercourse with men and earth: failure here will cause failure there. And that not only when there is the distinct consciousness of anything wrong between my neighbour and myself; but the ordinary current of my thinking and judging, the unloving thoughts and words I allow to pass unnoticed, can hinder my prayer. The effectual prayer of faith comes out from a life given up to the will and the love of God. Not according to what I try to be when praying, but what I am when not praying, is my prayer dealt with by God.
 

We may gather these thoughts into a third lesson: In our life with men the one thing on which everything depends is love. The spirit of forgiveness is the spirit of love. Because God is love, He forgives: it is only when we are dwelling in love that we can forgive as God forgives. In love to the brethren we have the evidence of love to the Father, the ground of confidence before God, and the assurance that our prayer will be heard, (1 John iv. 20, iii. 18-21, 23.). ‘Let us love in deed and truth; hereby shall we assure our heart before Him. If our heart condemn us not, we have boldness toward God, and whatever we ask, we receive of Him.’ Neither faith nor work will profit if we have not love; it is love that unites with God, it is love that proves the reality of faith. As essential as in the word that precedes the great prayer-promise in Mark xi. 24, ‘Have faith in God,’ is this one that follows it, ‘Have love to men.’ The right relations to the living God above me, and the living men around me, are the conditions of effectual prayer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Sunspots 838


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

Computing: Relevant reports that PornHub is being sued for subjecting women and children who are sex-trafficked to non-consensual sex.

Gizmodo discusses the most significant hacking events in history.


Finance: (and Politics) Gizmodo reports that many States are using facial recognition software to verity unemployment claims is prone to error, thus denying legitimate unemployment claims. Gizmodo also says that the company is difficult to contact about an error.

Health: The Scientist reports that antibodies to COVID were present in the US in late 2019.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight on how, in the US, adherents of the two major parties despise each other more than in similar situations in other countries, and how this puts democracy itself in jeopardy.

According to Gizmodo, reporting on testimony to Congress, the upstart social network, Parler, warned the FBI, several times, about the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6.

Science: Gizmodo reports on snake-like robots that dig into the ground, and under it.

NPR reports that a fossil dinosaur as long as a basketball court has been found in Australia.

NPR also reports that several varieties of apple, thought to have disappeared, still exist.

The Scientist reports on a study indicating that different groups have different "handshakes." These variant behaviors appear to be long-lasting within the group.

Gizmodo reports that ground temperature in Siberia recently hit 48 Celsius, which is way above normal, and not good.

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

Thanks for looking!

 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, 90, by Andrew Murray

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. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

The first lesson taught here is that of a forgiving disposition. We pray, ‘Forgive, even as we have forgiven.’ Scripture says, ‘Forgive one another, even as God also in Christ forgave you.’ God’s full and free forgiveness is to be the rule of ours with men. Otherwise our reluctant, half-hearted forgiveness, which is not forgiveness at all, will be God’s rule with us.
Every prayer rests upon our faith in God’s pardoning grace. If God dealt with us after our
sins, not one prayer could be heard. Pardon opens the door to all God’s love and blessing:
because God has pardoned all our sin, our prayer can prevail to obtain all we need. The deep sure ground of answer to prayer is God’s forgiving love. When it has taken possession of the heart, we pray in faith. But also, when it has taken possession of the heart, we live in love. God’s forgiving disposition, revealed in His love to us, becomes a disposition in us; as the power of His forgiving love shed abroad and dwelling within us, we forgive even as He forgives. If there be great and grievous injury or injustice done us, we seek first of all to possess a Godlike disposition; to be kept from a sense of wounded honour, from a desire to maintain our rights, or from rewarding the offender as he has deserved. In the little annoyances of daily life, we are watchful not to excuse the hasty temper, the sharp word, the quick
judgment, with the thought that we mean no harm, that we do not keep the anger long, or that it would be too much to expect from feeble human nature, that we should really forgive the way God and Christ do. No, we take the command literally, ‘Even as Christ forgave, so also do ye.’ The blood that cleanses the conscience from dead works, cleanses from selfishness too; the love it reveals is pardoning love, that takes possession of us and flows through us to others. Our forgiving love to men is the evidence of the reality of God’s forgiving love in us, and so the condition of the prayer of faith.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Sunspots 837

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


Health: (and politics) An NPR graphic (with accompanying text) indicates that people living in Red states are considerably less likely to have been vaccinated for COVID than those living in Blue states.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight discusses QAnon beliefs, and points out that some of them have been around for decades, before QAnon was identified.

Science: The Scientist, and other outlets, report that rotifers, frozen in Siberian ice for 24,000 years, are still alive, and even able to reproduce.

NPR reports that a fossil dinosaur as long as a basketball court has been found in Australia.

NPR also reports that several varieties of apple, thought to have disappeared, still exist.

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

Thanks for looking!