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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 20


"But they rebelled and vexed His Holy Spirit; therefore He was turned to be their enemy, and He fought against them." -- Isaiah 63:10.

When people act on every sudden and strong or repeated impression, instead of "pondering their paths" and submitting to the tests which will determine their character, sad results follow. The following are some of them:

Perplexity. Many have been perplexed and bewildered and driven to the very verge of insanity in this way.

The devil comes with a suggestion. He clothes it in robes of light so that it appears to be the truth. He persistently pushes it. If resisted, he claims that those who do so are resisting the Spirit If they yield to it, he then tears off his "robe of light" and laughs at their deception. He says, "no harm," when he seeks to allure astray, and afterwards accuses with fierce fury, a foretaste of the taunts with which he will tantalize the lost throughout eternity.

A student was tempted to leave school and engage in revival work. The proposal came unexpectedly, and he was pushed to a decision. He loved that work, and without reflection agreed to go. But this decision filled him with dissatisfaction, and as he prayed about it the Spirit took the providences connected with his coming to school and remaining there, and showed him that God's leadings still were schoolward, and as he was released from his hasty promise his perplexity vanished, and the sunshine of God's favor again beamed upon him.

Unwise Action. Every act that is not in harmony with God's will is unwise. He who acts hurriedly upon impulses is frequently betrayed into such action.

Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Sunspots 597

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

Christianity: Lifeway Research has set forth four questions that indicate whether someone is an evangelical.

Computing: Gizmo's freeware has updated its annotated list of free games for Windows machines. (Some of these have Ios and Android versions.)

Finance: The New York Times discusses Walmart's higher wages, and, perhaps, treating workers better, and the effects of these changes on the bottom line.

Food: Relevant says that newly developed sweet potatoes may prevent blindness in many people. (The potatoes have not been genetically modified.)

Health: Scientific American says that weight loss surgery also alters the brain.

Gizmo's Freeware points us to a hearing test that requires just a computer and headphones.

History: Listverse on clowns that terrified people in the past.

Politics: Charles Krauthammer, no one's idea of a left-winger, claims that the election of Mr. Trump would be very dangerous, and tells why.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 19

[Knapp continues his discussion of "Impressions from Below:"]
10. The Opinions of Other People. There is a sense in which "in a multitude of counselors there is safety," but more frequently there is confusion. He who seeks counsel from others more than from God will soon find discordant human voices drowning the inner voice, and know the truthfulness of the declaration that "cursed is the man who trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm." God often leads His children contrary to the counsels of their best friends, to teach them to rely on Him. So the voices of even our best friends, much less the decisions of Madam Grundy, can not be substituted for the tests which will be named. Satan or self will sometimes originate a very strong impression in the mind of Bro. Impulse and Bro. Self-Confidence, and make them believe it is of the Lord. It may relate to the action of Bro. Tender Conscience. With the solemnity and dogmatic certainty of an infallible oracle, they inform him of the revelation which they claim to have gotten of God, implying that they doubt his decision, and, perhaps, piety, if he does not accept their message as divine. I have known persons to bring and urge such messages, when to follow them would be to violate conscience, common sense and the clearest teachings of the Word.

11. Signs. As Satan can easily counterfeit them as he did with Moses in Egypt, it is evident that they would be an unsafe standard by which to try impressions. It is perilous to depend upon them. Yet the whole Simple family frequently do it. If they have an impression that one of their family is not to live long, and a bird flies into the room, or a looking-glass is broken, they are alarmed. They think it a sure sign of further mortality if a grave caves in or it rains upon the coffin on its way to its last long home. They are sure it is a bad sign to begin a job on Friday, and are governed by many similar superstitions It is also believed that some people who don't like to be classed with the Simple family are affected by such signs to a greater degree than they are free to confess.

12. Chance Happenings. Another trick of the adversary to get people to avoid rightful tests of impressions, is to prevail upon them to submit them to some chance happening. Bro. and Sister Truth Seeker have often been led astray in this way. They are impressed to do a certain thing, and decide that if the sun rises clear they will do it, if cloudy, not. If a certain chance event occurs they will take an impression to be of God; if it does not occur, not of Him. It might fittingly be called "religious gambling." It is a sort of "toss penny" arrangement which finds no sanction since the Holy Ghost fell at Pentecost. That good people have sometimes resorted to it simply proves their infirmity. It was before Pentecost that the Apostles "cast lots" in electing a successor of Judas. Had they waited until after, they doubtless would have taken a different course, and been saved the mortification of choosing a man who never was heard of afterwards, and of forestalling the Spirit, who put Paul in the place of Judas.

Its use drives to wrong conclusions, dwarfs the reason, fosters ignorance, offers incense to chance, perplexes the conscience, pleases Satan and grieves the Holy Ghost. These, and other similar devices, are often used by "the world, the flesh and the devil," to accomplish their designs. The deception practiced is often so subtle as to escape detection only from those who have learned to try them by divine tests. While Satan is allowed great latitude in his efforts to deceive, yet he can go no further than God permits.

It would not be surprising if there are ways revealed whereby all his counterfeit coin can be detected, and God's voice always be clearly and unmistakably known.

Given a God with whom all things are possible, a Savior whose mission is to "destroy the works of the devil," and who has promised His children "power over all the power of the enemy," and such a provision may be confidently looked for.

Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Sunspots 596

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

Christianity: Stephen Burnett continues a series about "Christian White Magic," here and here.

Relevant reports that a missionary in Russia has been arrested and fined for holding a religious service in his home, and inviting others to attend.

A Relevant commentator says that Christianity is not just a relationship -- it's a religion.

Finance: Relevant reports that the Mall of America will be closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Health: (and food) A doctor tells why he eats dropped food off of his kitchen floor, even if it's been there more than five seconds.

History: Listverse sets the record straight on Pocohantas. She had a very hard life.

Humor: A Christianity Today contributor prays for certain characteristics of a possible future husband.

Literature: Morgan Busse, Christian writer of fantastic literature, asks "What if Only One Person Reads my Books?"

Politics: The New York Times reports on a study of the political leanings of doctors, and there are several interesting results. Surgeons, for example, are nearly three times more likely to be Republican than infectious disease specialists. Also, doctors in higher-paying specialties are more likely to be Republican.

Science: Scientific American reports that silkworms, fed mulberry leaves sprayed with solutions of certain artificial materials, produce silk which is stronger than normal silk, and such silk can conduct electricity.

Oh, oh. Scientific American reports that the Food and Drug Administration, important scientific journals, and universities exert considerable control over how news from these bodies is reported. One example -- Fox News is not invited to FDA press conferences. The reason for this is not clear.

And Scientific American says that ISIS gets quite a bit of money from agriculture.

Listverse grosses us out with photos and descriptions of the 10 creepiest fungi.

FiveThirtyEight tells us that rocks don't just sit there.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 18

[Knapp continues his discussion of "Impressions from Below:"]
7. Passion. Many have attributed impressions to come from God which were born of no other parentage than their own rebellions passions. Saul of Tarsus, beneath the sway of this power, "breathing out slaughter" against the followers of Jesus, tells us that he verily thought he was doing God service. It is sometimes miscalled "righteous indignation," but loses none of the lion-like in its nature by the lamb-skin in which it thus is robed. Beware of its decision. Impulse and passion often prove a Niagara which drowns the voice of duty, and sweeps thousands of victims over the falls of irretrievable loss.

8. Prejudices and Preconceived Notions. These by their hue and cry attempt to deafen the ear to every voice which does not agree with them. Peter, though fully sanctified, had to be taken aside and given a special object lesson before he could distinguish, above the din of these two voices the Spirit's call to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. These two arbiters always interpret impressions according to their own views, and it is folly to appeal to them. Yet they are misleading millions. I have known their victims to be shocked at new and successful measures which the Holy Ghost would suggest in revival work, simply because these two censors were offended.

9. The Flesh. The voices of the body often clamor for excessive and unlawful gratification. Any impression which gives them license is popular with them. They are all ambitious to sit upon the throne of the soul and control its decisions, and must be "kept under," or instead of the "fruits of the Spirit," there will be the "lusts of the flesh," a harvest of thistles.

From Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sunspots 595

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

Christianity: First Things reports on a study of beliefs among evangelicals, and finds that all too many such believe that their own interpretation of the Bible is the final authority, as opposed to the interpretation of the church at large.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reminds us that it's a good idea to run the free Malicious Software Removal Tool regularly on Windows computers, and tells us how to do it. I just did, and it took less than 5 minutes and didn't find anything, thank God!

Newsweek claims that neither of the major candidates for President knows as much about computers and the Internet as he or she should, considering the importance of this topic.

Finance:  FiveThirtyEight asks what is wrong (if anything) with insider trading?

Health: Scientific American has a brief report on the likelihood that the types of microbes in breast tissue may increase, or decrease, the likelihood of breast cancer.

Humor: (or something) Listverse tells us about 10 things you can legally do, if you are in the right country. (Sample -- marry a dog.)

(actually, 10 bizarre accidents that have recently killed people.
the reverse of humor.) Listverse reports on
Politics: (and computing) Newsweek reports that the Bush Administration "lost" 22 million e-mails during President Bush's tenure in office, including during the time of the decision to go to war, under some under highly suspicious circumstances, used a private server (belonging to the Republican National Committee!) and stonewalled Congress on what was in those e-mails, and what happened to them. This by no means excuses Mrs. Clinton's mistake (or whatever you want to call it), but what the Bush White House did may have been just as bad, or much worse.

Leonard Pitts muses about the death (by a gunshot) of a 6-year-old boy, who lived less than an hour from me, and points out that we get all worked up over deaths caused by foreign terrorists (there have been "only" 71, since 9/1/2001) and hardly even notice over 30,000 deaths a year, all too many of them innocent children, killed by guns wielded by citizens.

Christianity Today blasts both Presidential candidates, but also blasts all too many evangelicals who have supported Mr. Trump. "What Trump is, everyone has known and has been able to see for decades, let alone the last few months."

Science: National Public Radio tells us that video chats are good for small children's development.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 17

[Knapp continues his descriptions of impressions from below.]
5. Infatuation. Under the magic charms of this enchantress all voices but her own are but faintly heard or altogether hushed. Her victims are restive under any restraint that crosses her whims, and frequently at her impetuous behests do violence to sacred vows and teachings of the Word divine.

The still small voice of duty is no more their delight, but the wine she offers intoxicates with pleasure. Too late they learn that beneath its sparkling surface there lurks disappointment, chagrin and frequently disgrace and even death. Satan may make people think that the voice of their infatuation is the voice of the Holy Ghost

Under its seductive sway it is said that three young men went in succession to their spiritual adviser, and each claimed that he was strongly "impressed of God," that he should marry a certain, attractive woman of wealth. An individual felt sure that God had revealed to him that he should a woman who was already the promised wife of another person. Another Christian man broke a long engagement and married the object of his infatuation. The woman whom he thus had wronged soon after died, and the lightnings of God's judgments have ever since been leaping upon the wrongdoer.

Attachments thus are frequently fostered which lead to alienations, law suits, neighborhood and church divisions, sundered family circles, and sometimes suicide and murder. Similar instances to the above abound on every side. The ruin wrought by bad people and the ridiculous antics cut by some good people under the influence of this enchantress, show that it is foolish and often fatal to follow her decisions. To appeal to her is as unwise as it would be to put a giddy girl upon the judge's bench. Delighted is the devil when he can delude to heed her siren voice instead of appealing to tests divine.

6. Impulse. Under this influence impressions which are very strong are acted upon in haste to be repented of at leisure. God never hurries people to do doubtful things. The devil does. Thus influenced, impulsive Peter drew his sword and made it needful for Jesus to perform the miracle of healing a sundered ear. Modern Peters by similar acts are constantly making miracles necessary to counteract the harm they thus have done. "He that believeth shall not make haste," applies to all action concerning the righteousness of which the child of God has any doubt.

From Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Sunspots 594

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

Christianity: Benjamin L. Corey claims that the US is not hostile toward Christianity, but hostile toward Christians who try to bully others into certain kinds of behavior.

Computing: Several companies in the information sector are working together with public representatives to develop ethics guidelines for artificial intelligence, according to reports by National Public Radio and other sources.

Gizmo's Freeware has posted an updated and annotated list of the best free apps, including, for example, substitutes for Word and Excel, and games, and many more.

Finance: Scientific American reports that Congress, with a bill backed by members of both parties (!) will probably pass legislation that helps prevent people who have lost property in a flood from continuing to receive federally backed insurance payments when they re-build in the same place. The worst case mentioned is a home that has had 34 damage claims in 32 years, whose owner has been paid about ten times the property's value over that time period.

Food: Cup noodles are 45 years old. NPR reports on their history and culture (and also on Ramen noodles).

Health: National Public Radio reports on the value of walking for health, especially in older people.

History: Listverse presents 10 amazing stories of survival in the Arctic.

Humor: (or not) The Conversation on why some of us think clowns are creepy.

Real humor: An amazing rope trick video.

Politics: NPR reports on the question of whether fact checks matter.
Science: NPR reports that an environmentally cleaner car may actually cost less.
Scientific American reports that 8-month-old babies are able to understand more than we might expect, and to use communication with adults.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 16

Frightful ... are the mistakes and disasters which have come from being led by untried impressions. To keep from the discriminating light of the detecting proof tests which God has provided, Satan has devised many ingenious and deceptive expedients. As the rightful judges never will render a decision in his favor, but always detect the slightest error, he makes a desperate effort to prevail upon persons to appeal to other judges whom he can bribe to decide as he wishes. If possible, he will push people to act upon doubtful impressions without trying them at all; but if they will "try the spirits, whether they be of God," then he insists that they shall be tried before a court of his dictation. The following are among the judges which he recommends, and which have betrayed multitudes:

1. Feelings. People who are duped by this judge follow their feelings instead of their convictions. Impressions which harmonize with their feelings are fondled, and other impressions are given a cold reception. If their feelings are crossed they raise such a cry as to drown the whisperings of the still small voice within, and then seek their selfish gratification. They sometimes do very unscriptural things because they "feel like it," and for the same reason avoid the cross and the self-denial which it imposes. They mistake the voice of their own feelings for a message from above, and following the decisions of this judge, they are betrayed into wrong action. Well did Wesley exhort his followers to "trample under foot the enthusiastic doctrine that we are to do good only when we feel like it." He who tests his convictions by his feelings, instead of God's judges, is as foolish as a man who would take his case out of a wise and righteous court and put it in the power of a crying child.

2. Imagination. Fancy is often quick to seize an impression, paint it and make it appear as real and beautiful as a blooming rose. The Christian, of course, renounces all imaginations that are known to be wrong; but in order to divert from the work and the life-plan which God has marked out, imagination will often paint another work and point to another plan which some wrong impression has suggested, and thus seek to lead from the path where duty calls.

A person sometimes has an impression that he ought to have a certain desirable appointment [to a position]. In fact, a number often feel "strongly impressed" that they should have the same place. Then they imagine themselves there, and when the appointments are made and their fancy bubble bursts they weep like children because the voice of their imaginations did not prove to be the voice of God. Sometimes imagination takes foreboding of evil and makes it seem as real as fact, and goads to worry over what never comes.

Every "imagination" that does not stand the tests above mentioned should be "cast down." He who substitutes it instead of them will find himself in as sad a plight as the student who might seek to make a paint-brush light his room instead of turning on the gas. The burden of Jeremiah's message against God's people was that they followed "their own imaginations" instead of heeding the voice divine.

Who is there that has not sometimes had a "strong impression" that an absent friend was sick, or in danger, or dying, and afterwards found that it was all imagination?

The devil is called the "Tormentor," and he loves to tantalize by this or any other means.

"Beware," wrote Wesley, "of a heated imagination. . . . . Some charge their own imaginations on the will of God, and that not written but impressed on their hearts. If these impressions be received as a rule of action instead of the written Word, I know nothing so wicked or absurd but that we may fall into, and that without remedy."

3. Chance Texts. The habit of turning to some chance text and hinging action upon that, has prevailed with some. This is as if a physician should prescribe for his patient by opening his books at random and writing out the first [prescription] which catches his eye! Or as if a lawyer would open a book of legal lore and give his client the chance counsel which he thus might find! Is spiritual indolence or ignorance less pardonable than medical or legal?

The come-outer is impressed that he should leave the church. He urges the divinity of his impression by taking as a test the first text which meets his eye as he opens the Bible. It chances to be, "Come out from among them and be ye separate." With this text Satan blinds his eyes to the whole teaching of Scripture in regard to the organized church, and on it he drifts down the stream of "come-outism," over the falls of final fanaticism.

Another person is impressed that women ought not to do public work. He opens his Bible, and by chance his eye catches, "Let the women learn in silence." The whole question is settled in an instant! And so easily, too! And thus wresting this Scripture from its proper place, he peacefully pillows his head upon it, and lies down on the railroad track of the facts of Scripture, right and sense in the matter, and is crushed by the wheels of truth as it steams with triumph on its destined way. "Search the Scriptures," not "fool" with them, is the divine command.

4. Dreams. God has spoken to men by dreams, but this is not His usual way. There is, under the spirit's dispensation, no Scripture warrant for depending upon them for guidance. Jeremiah called them "chaff" when compared to the revealed Word. He who substitutes the chaff of dreams for the wheat of Bible truth will soon become a spiritual starveling. Many people have allowed themselves to be alarmed because previous impressions were strengthened by dreams which were merely born of bad digestion. The Bible speaks of "false dreams" and "filthy dreamers," and complains of those who caused the people to forget God by "their dreams which they told every man to his neighbor."

A certain person received me very coldly where I was once engaged in revival work because of a striking dream he had had of an evangelist which he thought referred to me. Before the meeting closed he changed his mind, and thought it must have meant some other person.

A Christian lady of whom I knew, after losing her husband, dreamed that a relative came to her home and brought a man, and said to her, "I have brought you this man for your husband." The dream made a very deep impression, and the features of the promised husband were vividly fixed in her mind. She actually expected the fulfillment of the dream, but looked for it in vain to the day of her death.

All impressions made by dreams which do not meet the approval of the rightful tests should be allowed to vanish. To follow them may prove as fatal as for an engineer, because of "a strong impression made by a dream," to run his train without orders from headquarters. In either case fearful wreckage may be the result.

Mr. Wesley wisely warns: "Do not hastily ascribe things to God. Do not easily suppose dreams, voices, impressions, visions, or revelations to be from God. They may be from Him. They may be from nature. They may be from the devil. Therefore believe not every spirit, but 'try the spirits whether they be from God."'

From Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.