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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Sunspots 853

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



Environment: Gizmodo considers the question of whether city living or country living is easier on the environment.

Health: (and Computing) Gizmodo reports on a watch that alerts you to breathing issues, including sleep apnea.

Politics: (And Christianity) an article on the dangers of populism, which affects both the left and the right.

Science: NPR reports that the ivory-billed woodpecker, and other species, have been declared extinct.

NPR also reports on a gene editing experiment that worked.

The Scientist reports on a study showing that barnacles don't always stay in the same place.

Relevant reports that bumblebees have disappeared from eight states. The states are widely distributed.

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, October 10, 2021

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 96

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, about united prayer, based on Mark 11:22-24:

What an unspeakable privilege this of united prayer is, and what a power it might be. If the believing husband and wife knew that they were joined together in the Name of Jesus to experience His presence and power in united prayer (1 Peter); if friends believed what mighty help two or three praying in concert could give each other; if in every prayer meeting the coming together in the Name, the faith in the Presence, and the expectation of the answer, stood in the foreground; if in every Church united effectual prayer were regarded as one of the chief purposes for which they are banded together, the highest exercise of their power as a Church; if in the Church universal the coming of the kingdom, the coming of the King Himself, first in the mighty outpouring of His Holy Spirit, then in His own glorious person, were really matter of unceasing united crying to God;—O who can say what blessing might come to, and through, those who thus agreed to prove God in the fulfilment of His promise.
 

Saturday, October 09, 2021

New Testament teaching on care of the environment

New Testament teaching on care of the environment
Most of the usual teaching on what the Bible says about care of the environment is from the Old Testament. However, there are two passages from the New Testament that also argue that we should be caring carefully for the environment. They are indirect, but their urgency is important. 
Romans 1:20 tells us that observing and learning about nature are part of God’s revelation to humans. (So does Psalm 19:1-4). If that is so, isn’t that another reason to try to preserve nature as well as we can? The Bible is one of the ways that God reveals Himself to us. For a long time, Christians have believed that the Bible should be translated into the language people are most familiar with, so that that revelation may be as clear as possible. Similarly, it would seem that God's revelation through nature should be as clear as possible. A person is more likely to see God in a pristine stream than in a polluted river. Probably seeing bison herds roam freely in Western North America gave people a glimpse of one aspect of God’s power and majesty that they can’t really get now. Therefore, helping to preserve nature in as good a condition as we can is one way to bring people to a saving knowledge of Christ. Not the most direct way, and probably not the most effective, for many people, but it is still a way to do this.
 
Colossians 1:15-20 says, of Christ, that “in Him all things hold together.” (ESV -- other versions have similar language.) That passage also says that He is working to reconcile all things to Himself, and working to make peace through the blood of the cross. As Christians, we believe that it is our duty to be His instruments in reconciling sinners to Christ, and to help Him in the ministry of making peace. In fact, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, tells us that:  18 But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ, and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and having committed to us the word of reconciliation. 
Doesn’t it follow that we should also participate in Christ’s work of sustaining “all things,” including endangered species and ecosystems or biological communities? (I realize that there are other places in the New Testament where reconciliation and peacemaking are mentioned, or implied, and this is probably the only one that mentions Christ's sustaining work. But that doesn't mean that His sustaining work can be dismissed, or that we have no responsibility to be His instruments in doing it.)

This post was taken, as is, from a longer post on what the Bible says about environmental stewardship. 

Sunday, October 03, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 95

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, about united prayer, based on Mark 11:22-24:

The third mark is, the sure answer: ‘It shall be done for them of my Father.’ A prayer meeting for maintaining religious fellowship, or seeking our own edification, may have its use; this was not the Saviour’s view in its appointment. He meant it as a means of securing special answer to prayer. A prayer meeting without recognised answer to prayer ought to be an anomaly. When any of us have distinct desires in regard to which we feel too weak to exercise the needful faith, we ought to seek strength in the help of other. In the unity of faith and of love and of the Spirit, the power of the Name and the Presence of Jesus acts more freely and the answer comes more surely. The mark that there has been true united prayer is the fruit, the answer, the receiving of the thing we have asked: ‘I say unto you, It shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.’

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Sunspots 852

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


Christianity "Resurrecting Orthodoxy" explains what the Bible says about demons. It's complicated.

(and Computing) Relevant reports that the most-viewed Christian Facebook feeds, so-called, are almost all run by troll farms in Eastern Europe. (For what it's worth, I'd never seen or heard of any of them, except the Guideposts feed, which is apparently not run by such a troll farm.)

Relevant also has an article examining the idea of modesty. It's complicated, and many of us have been operating as if it's simple.

Environment: Gizmodo reports that a bee swarm killed over 60 endangered penguins in South Africa.

Gizmodo also reports that summer 2021 wildfires, mostly in the US and Siberia, emitted more carbon dioxide than the country of India did.:

Politics: An audit of Arizona's fall Presidential election ballots, by a firm picked by the GOP legislators, found that, is anything, President Biden got more votes than were reported in November, according to Fox News and other outlets.

FiveThirtyEight on why bipartisanship in the Senate is so rare.

Science: Gizmodo tells us about tiny parasitic, nearly transparent fish found in the Amazon.

NPR reports that Mars may have been too small to hold its water from gradually escaping Martian gravity.

Gizmodo reports on the creation of new languages -- there have been some such, recently.

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, September 26, 2021

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 94

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 marks of true united prayer are given us in these words of our Lord. The first is agreement as to the thing asked. There must not only be generally the consent to agree with anything another may ask: there must be some special thing, matter of distinct united desire; the agreement must be, as all prayer, in spirit and in truth. In such agreement it will become very clear to us what exactly we are asking, whether we may confidently ask according to God’s will, and whether we are ready to believe that we have received what we ask.
The second mark is the gathering in, or into, the Name of Jesus. We shall afterwards have much more to learn of the need and the power of the Name of Jesus in prayer;  here our Lord teaches us that the Name must be the centre of union to which believers gather,
the bond of union that makes them one, just as a home contains and unites all who are in it. ‘The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and escape.’ That Name is such a reality to those who understand and believe it, that to meet within it is to have Himself present. The love and unity of His disciples have to Jesus infinite attraction: ‘Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.’ It is the living presence of Jesus, in the fellowship of His loving praying disciples, that gives united prayer its power.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Sunspots 851

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



Christianity (and Health): Relevant reports that public support for allowing religious exemptions against being vaccinated is declining. Christianity Today has a somewhat different take on this matter.

Education: Grammarphobia discusses the history of the expression "put English on the ball."

Environment: (and Computing) Gizmodo reports on the amount of environmental damage from bitcoin transactions.

Relevant reports that 27 species have recently been moved from "endangered," to "extinct." The article also mentions a joint statement by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Orthodox Patriarch, on climate change.

Health: (and Politics, unfortunately) NPR reports on ivermectin, which has been used to treat COVID, without solid evidence than it works.

Science: The Scientist reports on successful attempts to potty-train cows, and why it's a good idea to do so.

Gizmodo reports that Martian colonists could produce concrete-like building materials from Martian soil mixed with their own blood.

Gizmodo also reports that two more murder hornet nests have been found in Washington State.

Gizmodo also reports on a new tool that should help remove stuck screws.

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, September 19, 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:

‘Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.—Matt. xviii. 19, 20.
ONE of the first lessons of our Lord in His school of prayer was: Not to be seen of men. Enter thy inner chamber; be alone with the Father. When He has thus taught us that the meaning of prayer is personal individual contact with God, He comes with a second lesson: You have need not only of secret solitary, but also of public united prayer. And He gives us a very special promise for the united prayer of two or three who agree in what they ask.
As a tree has its root hidden in the ground and its stem growing up into the sunlight, so prayer needs equally for its full development the hidden secrecy in which the soul meets God alone, and the public fellowship with those who find in the name of Jesus their common meeting-place.
The reason why this must be so is plain. The bond that unites a man to his fellow-men is no less real and close than that which unites him to God: he is one with them. Grace renews not alone our relation to God but to man too. We not only learn to say ‘My Father,’ but ‘Our Father.’ Nothing would be more unnatural than that the children of a family should always meet their father separately, but never in the united expression of their desires or their love. Believers are not only members of one family, but even of one body. Just as each member of the body depends on the other, and the full action of the spirit dwelling in the body depends on the union and co-operation of all, so Christians cannot reach the full blessing God is ready to bestow through His Spirit, but as they seek and receive it in fellowship with each other. It is in the union and fellowship of believers that the Spirit can manifest His full power. It was to the hundred and twenty continuing in one place together, and praying with one accord, that the Spirit came from the throne of the glorified Lord.

 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Sunspots 850

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




ChristianityChristianity Today reports that former President Trump no longer calls himself a Presbyterian, but a non-denominational Christian, and that there are many other people who have made similar changes.

Environment: Gizmodo reports that California law now requires companies to prove that objects they manufacture are actually recycled before they can be labeled as recyclable. The report says that less than 20% of supposedly recyclable plastics are actually recycled.

Gizmodo also reports on a study showing that young people are pessimistic about the future of the world's environment, and angry at governments for doing so little about this.

Health: FiveThirtyEight reminds us that the anti-vaxx movement has been around since long before COVID, and that, although now Republicans are more anti-vaxx, years ago, the parties had about the same number of vaccine-rejecters.

Science: Gizmodo reports that Komodo dragons, and many other species, are in danger of extinction.

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, September 12, 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 here. As usual in this blog, long quotations are in this color. Murray continues his discussion, based on Mark 11:22-24:

Blessed Father! Thou art Love, and only he that abideth in love abideth in Thee and in fellowship with Thee. The Blessed Son hath this day again taught me how deeply true this is of my fellowship with Thee in prayer. O my God! let Thy love, shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit, be in me a fountain of love to all around me, that out of a life in love may spring the power of believing prayer. O my Father! grant by the Holy Spirit that this may be my experience, that a life in love to all around me is the gate to a life in the love of my God. And give me especially to find in the joy with which I forgive day by day whoever might offend me, the proof that Thy forgiveness to me is a power and a life.

Lord Jesus! my Blessed Teacher! teach Thou me to forgive and to love. Let the power of Thy blood make the pardon of my sins such a reality, that forgiveness, as shown by Thee to me, and by me to others, may be the very joy of heaven. Show me whatever in my intercourse with fellowmen might hinder my fellowship with God, so that my daily life in my own home and in society may be the school in which strength and confidence are gathered for the prayer of faith. Amen.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

Sunspots 849

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


Christianity: Relevant asks why God wants us to be patient.

Computing: Gizmodo reports on a ransomware attack on a university. On-line classes were suspended, at least for a time.

Health: Gizmodo reports on a study indicating that wearing masks really do help against COVID.

Politics: (and computing) The committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has asked a number of communication companies to preserve records of accused participants. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy has threatened to shut down such companies that cooperate with the committee, according to Gizmodo.

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.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Maker/Creator of heaven and earth

The creeds are often part of congregational worship (See here for a discussion of the creeds). One of the Sunday services we watch on-line recently included recitation of a creed. My wife and I were glad to say the words together, although not together in time and space, with the congregation.

One part struck me: "I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth ..." (Some churches say "maker of heaven and earth.")

Was the Father maker of heaven and earth?

The Old Testament does not say much about the Trinity. Judaism was a monotheistic religion. One God. That God, of course, was Creator and Maker. So over half of the Bible does indicate that God the Father was creator. The New Testament doesn't present a clear picture of the Trinity, and perhaps a picture of the Trinity can't be clear enough for our limited minds to grasp. But Christ and the Holy Spirit are certainly persons of importance in the New Testament.

There are passages in the New Testament that indicate that God the Son was the main creative agent in making and creating heaven and earth:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him. Without him, nothing was made that has been made. (Scripture quotations from the World English Bible, public domain.)

The Word was the Son.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth, visible things and invisible things, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together.

Again, the context makes clear that "He" is God the Son, Christ. And Christ was not only Creator, but is Sustainer of creation.

and Hebrews 1:1 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 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. 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, who, when he had by himself purified us of our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Again, God the Son is creator and is sustainer.

I'm not suggesting that the Creeds be re-written. They won't be. But, like other parts of the Creeds, there's more that Christians should know and act upon than can be expressed in a sentence or phrase. God the Son, Christ our Savior, was deeply involved in creating, and is now deeply involved in sustaining that creation.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, September 05, 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:

It has been said:

There is nothing so heart-searching as believing prayer, or even the honest effort to pray in faith. O let us not turn the edge of that self-examination by the thought that God does not hear our prayer for reasons known to Himself alone. By no means. ‘Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss.’ Let that word of God search us. Let us ask whether our prayer be indeed the expression of a life wholly given over to the will of God and the love of man. Love is the only soil in which faith can strike its roots and thrive. As it throws its arms up, and opens its heart heavenward, the Father always looks to see if it has them opened towards the evil and the unworthy too. In that love, not indeed the love of perfect attainment, but the love of fixed purpose and sincere obedience, faith can alone obtain the blessing. It is he who gives himself to let the love of God dwell in him, and in the practice of daily life to love as God loves, who will have the power to believe in the Love that hears his every prayer. It is the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne: it is suffering and forbearing love that prevails with God in prayer. The merciful shall obtain mercy; the meek shall inherit the earth.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Sunspots 848

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


Christianity: Relevant reports that a majority of self-identified Christians under 40 think that Christ isn't the only way to salvation.

Relevant also reports that a significant portion of guitar sales are for church worship purposes.

(and Politics) FiveThirtyEight on why white evangelicals have such a low COVID vaccination rate.

(and Politics) Relevant on what the Bible says about how to treat refugees. Christianity Today on the same subject.

Education: Grammarphobia explains why "duck" has so many meanings.

Environment: Gizmodo reports that, for the first time ever known, it rained in the heart of Greenland's ice sheet.

Gizmodo also reports that (surprise!) Texas isn't requiring big petroleum companies to follow practices that are supposed to be required, and would cut down on climate change effects.

Health: Gizmodo reports on a study indicating that the number of people with hypertension (high blood pressure), worldwide, has risen a lot in the past 30 years.

Science: Gizmodo reports on a study of types of rhinoceros, and their ancestry. The five species now alive are all in danger, from poaching or habitat destruction.

Gizmodo also reports that some paper wasps make fluorescent nests. Their function is unclear at present.

Gizmodo also has a good article on how fossils are dated.

Sports: FiveThirtyEight on how the NCAA treats women's sports poorly.

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.