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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sunspots 606

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

Christianity: A Relevant article on memorizing scripture, which, the article says, is the most important spiritual discipline.

Listverse on 10 misconceptions (sorry!) about the birth of Christ.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports that there is a Windows program that copies files to your iPad or iPhone, and it's free until January 10, 2017.

Health: Scientific American reports that hospitals and nursing homes often do not report outbreaks of infectious diseases which are difficult to stop.

Humor: (or something) Listverse reports on 10 unique gingerbread houses.

Philosophy: (sort of) National Public Radio has a discussion of what we get (or don't get) out of being grateful.

Politics: (or not) Relevant has an essay on the difference between biased news and fake news, and reports that Facebook is trying to keep the latter from its site.

Congress and President Obama have agreed on something! -- a statement on world-wide religious freedom.

National Public Radio reports on the difficulty that some US citizens have in proving their citizenship. They may be jailed, or have to pay for an attorney.

Science: Scientific American reports that a South African teenager has invented a product that should help mitigate drought, inexpensively.

(And Politics) Scientific American also has published a list, with documentation, of bogus science-related claims made by politicians in 2016.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christ and Creation video.

I have created a PowerPoint presentation on "Christ and Creation."  This post may be of some value to others, but is designed to supplement that video.

There are some links in the presentation, which can't be accessed from the video. Those links are given below:

Essay on environmental stewardship of God's creation.

Genesis 2:4 in Hebrew, showing the use of yowm.

Discussion on the interpretation of the creation story, as given in the Bible.

Geological evidence does not support a young earth.

Glen Morton asked young-earth creationist geologists if they applied young-earth geology to their jobs.

This presentation is also available below, although I am not happy with how it looks in this web page, and I have added two summary slides since originally posting this page.

If you want the presentation, in PowerPoint format, leave me your e-mail address in a comment, or in some other way, and I'll send the file to you.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 28

I am aware that this is Christmas day. My apologies to anyone who was expecting a Christmas post. I decided to just follow my pattern of quoting from some more or less classic Christian public domain book on Sundays.

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion continues:


"He will guide you into all truth." -- John 16:13.

Some people are shy of this subject because others have gone into fanaticism over it. They thus lose great enlightenment which otherwise they might enjoy. Is it sensible to starve to death because some people persist in eating too much? Shall we cease traveling because occasionally an accident occurs? Or freeze to death because some people burn themselves?

Yet it were wiser to do any of the above than to draw back from being "led by the Spirit," simply because some people have abused their privilege. Our privilege to be divinely led is demonstrated beyond a doubt in the four following ways:

1. By Inspired Promises.
2. By Inspired Examples.
3. By Inspired Experiences.
4. By Inspired Aspirations.

1. Inspired Promises. The testimony from this source is overwhelming, and sufficient to make assurance doubly sure even if there were no further evidence.

(a). In Psalms 82:8, it is written: "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go; I will guide thee with mine eye."

God's eye is here represented as looking out the path for His children, His voice as teaching them, and His finger pointing to the right path.

(b). "The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord, and He delighteth in his way."

This passage shows God's guidance even in "steps." How blessed to know that He will make known what to do, not only in great things, but in the little "steps" which so often cause perplexity. The man is not as "good" as he ought to be who does not claim this guidance step by step.

(c). What a privilege it is to have a wise, earthly adviser. Yet such may err. Hence counsel at every needed point is provided for us in Jesus. Hence looking into God with perfect assurance all, like the psalmist, may exclaim: "Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."

(d). In passing through a dense and unknown wilderness, it is a great advantage to have clear directions for the journey; but how much better to have the faithful guide himself to go ahead, and not only tell the way but lead in it.

This world is a dark thicket. Millions have lost their path and perished in it.

Glory be to God that He has given us a guide book, and best of all the presence of an unerring Guide. He says: "I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight. I will break in pieces the gates of brass and break in sunder the bars of iron."

By His providences He thus prepares the paths in which He leads His children. Red seas and walled Jericho's are blown out of the way by His almighty breath.

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, December 21, 2016

Sunspots 605

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

The Arts: Listverse reports on 10 bizarre stained glass windows. Really bizarre.

Christianity: Relevant tells us that many Christians unknowingly repeat errors in their perception of the Christmas story.

Relevant also reminds us that no one ever became a believer because a Christian scolded them.

"Six Reasons Prayers are not Answered." (Actually, there are more in the article.)

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware reports on a capable free replacement for Microsoft Office.

And Gizmo's points to a free program that lets you download a YouTube video as an .mp3 file -- video to sound only, meaning you can play it without being connected to the internet. However, you lose the video.

Education: The New York Times reports that spending more money on education "probably" improves it.

Health: Listverse reports on people who have had various creatures living in their ears.

Humor: (or something) Scientific American reports on why it's so hard to get a gift that pleases the recipient. (There's an explanation.)

(or something) National Public Radio reports on the return of a book that was apparently checked out of a library in the UK, over 120 years ago.
Politics: (Or something) CNN reports that there has been a large pipeline leak, about 150 miles from the much-publicized standoff (so far) on the Standing Rock reservation.

Science: Scientific American reports that 13 bird species have been recently been declared extinct.

Scientific American also tells us that we should be getting ready to keep a comet from hitting the earth, but we aren't.

Listverse reports on 10 things you probably didn't know about the solar system. (I didn't.)

FiveThirtyEight tells us that we are all part virus. Really.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 27

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion continues:

The Holy Spirit is an unerring guide, and he who detects and turns from every wrong impression and fully follows Him will be led into "all truth."

It should be the aim of every Christian to overcome inattention and forgetfulness and be thus led. May we each so "try the Spirits," and "watch and pray," that, like God's people of old, we may see our "pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night," and thus led in a "plain path" be enabled to "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

In conclusion, let us again review the rightful tests of all impressions, and ever keep in mind that none should be acted upon which does not bear the divine stamps -- S. R. P. R.

S. -- Scriptural. In harmony with God's will as revealed in His Word.

R. -- Right. In harmony with God's will as revealed in man's moral consciousness by the law of God, which is written within his moral nature.

P. -- Providential. In harmony with God's will as revealed in His providential dealings.

R. -- Reasonable. In harmony with God's will as revealed to man's reasoning powers, illuminated by Holy Spirit.

All impressions which have not this stamp divine are as valueless as railroad tickets without the stamp of the issuing office. The reason why many people are thwarted in their plans and compelled to get off from trains of action upon which they are attempting to ride, is because they act upon impressions which have not this sacred seal.

When an impression has been tried, an is known to be of God, the whole soul should be thrown into it, and it should be firmly, boldly and persistently acted upon. The Christian then should "set his face like a flint," and turn neither to the right hand nor the left. His feelings may weep, his imaginations fade, perverted Scripture protest, his infatuations die in despair, his impulses and passions be disappointed, his appetites complain, his prejudices and preconceived notions be abandoned, his friends dismayed, his dreams, signs and chance happenings all prove false prophets, and "Satan rage, and fiery darts be hurled;" yet he will follow "anywhere and everywhere" that God may lead. "Delivered from every false way," he will test the blessedness of the words of the wise Christian philosopher who said: "Happy is he who is not led by mere sights and sounds; not by strange momentary impressions which may come from the disordered senses, from the world or from the devil, but by that clear light which illuminates the intellect, the conscience and the heart; which is ever consistent with itself and with God's Word and providences, and which has, in reality, for its author the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.

"He will also prove the preciousness of the promise which declares: 'The Lord shall guide thee continually and satisfy thy soul in drouth, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters fail not."' Isaiah 58:11.

Glory be to God that such an experience is possible for every one of His children.

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, December 14, 2016

Sunspots 604

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

Christianity: Benjamin L. Corey tells us that Christmas is not a pagan holiday, nor was it based on one.

Health: (or something) Listverse reports on how hair color influences various aspects of our health.

National Public Radio reports on volunteer (almost always family members) caregivers. They need training, and at least some of them are getting it.

History: Listverse describes 10 mysterious libraries of the past.

Politics: Scientific American has published an open letter to President-elect Trump, urging him to take six actions relative to climate change (none of which are to deny its existence! -- which he may, or may not, have done) from over 800 scientists in climatology and related fields.

Science: (or something) National Public Radio muses on the topic of whether the Neanderthals had a religion.

Todd Wood, a young-earth creationist with impeccable scientific credentials. discusses a fossil of a dinosaur with feathers. (The fossil was preserved in amber, meaning that it's better preserved than most fossils. The feather structure is clearly visible.)

Scientific American discusses the intelligence of octopi.

FiveThirtyEight on the Waffle House index for natural disasters.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 26

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. He continues:

While the above tests are sufficient and final, the following facts are also worthy of notice in this connection.

(a). Divine impressions are persuasive. God does not drive, but leads His children. Impressions from other sources are loud, clamorous, feverish, and seek to drown the Spirit's voice.

(b). Impressions from above always give sufficient time to the honest seeker to test their genuineness. Those from below are in a hurry, and fearing detection, clamor for immediate decisions.

While it is true, when duty is clearly known, that "The king's business requireth haste," yet when it is not clearly known it is just as true that "He that believeth shall not make haste."

A friend of mine recently was cheated out of quite a large sum of money, because he yielded to a loud and hasty impression to lend it to a person who proved to be a scamp. Had he have waited, prayed, considered and tested the matter, he would have been saved a costly lesson.

(c). Impressions from above welcome the light. Those from below shrink back from it. The first love to be catechised; the second are afraid of tests, and don't like to be questioned. Adam and Eve, when following those from above, were possessed of innocent and holy boldness, and delighted in the divine presence; afterwards they instinctively sought to hide from God's searching eye.

Impressions from above, when followed, are attended by a sweet peace and the consciousness that they are right; those from below, by perplexity and the feeling that something is wrong. The first brings rest. The second robs of it.

Impressions from above appeal to our higher spiritual instincts; those from below often to our passions, prejudices, fancies, infatuations and selfish inclinations.

Those from above make us feel, "I ought to do so," and if obeyed there comes a sweet and permanent delight in putting the "ought" in practice. Those from below lack this feature, and though if followed bring gratification, it is but temporary. A serpent hides in every rose they bring, and soon is felt its fatal sting.

Impressions from below are destitute of spiritual heat. Satan can counterfeit the light of truth, but not the ardent glow of holy love. Hence impressions from him bring spiritual chill and discomfort instead of warmth and satisfaction.

Impressions from above ripen into convictions.

Those from below never do. They may crystallize into desires, or imaginations, or opinions, but never become convictions. The first make men like the Apostles after Pentecost so that they "can not but speak" and pray and act. The latter will apologize for expressing itself, and is swept away before the former like leaves before, a gale. It is a part of the mission of the Holy Spirit to fill us with such convictions that we will be like the "mountains round about Jerusalem," mighty and immovable.

The conditions which must be met in order to rightfully apply these tests will be noticed in a succeeding chapter.

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, December 07, 2016

Sunspots 603

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

The Arts: Relevant reports on some amazing sculpture made from paper.

Christianity: A Relevant article says that the idea that we have a hole in our heart that only God can fill is dangerous.

Relevant also examines the idea of the "war on Christmas."

BioLogos analyzes the theology of Dr. Strange.

Computing: Gizmo's Freeware tells us how to download the Microsoft Solitaire Collection for iOs and Android devices.

Gizmo's Freeware also lists the top 50 games for Windows, released in the last 10 years. Most of these are also available for other platforms.

Education: National Public Radio reports on the benefits of bilingual education.

History: Listverse tells us about 10 diseases that had a profound effect on history.

Humor: A video of 11,000 dominoes falling.

Politics: (and other things) Benjamin L. Corey says that fake news isn't the problem -- it's that people believe fake news, because they want to.

National Public Radio reports that the military has been discharging thousands of veterans who suffer from various emotional an cognitive disorders, resulting from combat, in such a way that they can't receive all the benefits of those honorably discharged. And tried to cover this up.

Science: National Public Radio also reports on the question of what birds hear when they listen to bird songs.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 25

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. He continues with more on the 4th of these:

4. Reasonable. Impressions from above are always in harmony with a spiritually enlightened judgment. God has given us reasoning powers for a purpose, and He respects them, appeals to them, and all of His leadings are in unison with them. He will bring up all the facts in the case in such a way as to convince that His leadings are all in harmony with sanctified common sense. Indeed, when the first three tests above mentioned are met, reason can but accept the conclusions which they bring.

I have a friend who was frightened from receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, because Satan kept suggesting to her that if she did she would have to do absurd and unreasonable things. He "impressed" her that she ought to go and preach at a political meeting, talk religion to every one she met on the street and everywhere, and do kindred unreasonable things. He made her believe that these impressions came from God instead of him, and thus fearfully perplexed her. Satan took the fact that we are to do good "as we have Opportunity," and with it sought to compel her to force opportunities. An appeal to this test would have defeated him. God never requires an unreasonable thing. He invites us to "reason" with Him, and appeals to our judgments that His service is a "reasonable service."

God deals with us as with rational beings, and it is a consequence of that recognition of our rationality that He does not require us to act upon sudden suggestions or impressions, even if the come from Himself without our first subjecting them to the scrutiny of reason.

"Try all things," wrote John Wesley, "by the written Word, and let all bow down before it. You are in danger of enthusiasm [fanaticism] every hour, if you depart ever so little from Scripture; yea, or from the plain literal meaning of any text taken in connection with the context. And so you are if you despise or lightly esteem reason, knowledge, or human learning, every one of which is an excellent gift of God, and may serve the noblest purposes."

The Holy Spirit is our divinely appointed guide. We are to be led by Him. He speaks directly to our hearts and also through the four mediums mentioned. He never contradicts Himself. So there is always perfect harmony between His inward impressions and these four voices.

No impression should be acted on as from above which does not clearly meet these tests.

God never asks us to act on uncertainties.

To do so is a spiritual crime. "He that doubteth is damned if he eat," and this principle prescribes the doing of anything concerning the rightfulness of which there is doubt.

Impressions from above always meet all four of the above tests, and every impression which is doubtful should be rigidly and prayerfully tried by each.

If Scriptural, right, providential and reasonable, they may be taken as God's voice, and followed as confidently as the angel brought to earth the tidings of our Savior's birth. Otherwise impressions should be firmly rejected ere they lead into folly, fanaticism and final ruin.

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.