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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Sunspots 765


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


Christianity: (and Sports) A "prophet" has apparently claimed that, if the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl, it will be an important sign of Christ's return, or something, according to Relevant.

Relevant also has an article on the difference between praise and worship.


(or something) Relevant also reports that President Trump's spiritual advisor prayed that "satanic pregnancies" would miscarry. What?!


Computing: NPR tells us how to avoid having a smartphone hacked.

Gizmo's Freeware tells how to add a webpage address to a smartphone's home screen.


Environment: The Trump administration has taken steps to drastically change water protection regulations, making it easier for some polluters to pollute, according to Gizmodo.
Politics: The New York Times has an article discussing the different challenges facing the two main parties. Basic conclusion: Democrats have to stay close to the center if they want to win. I thank one of my sons-in-law for a link to the article.

Science: Listverse tells us 10 things our body has or does, that you probably didn't know about. Sample: we give off light.


Sports: Maya Moore, one of the best WNBA players ever, has put her career on hold to work for the release of a man she believes was imprisoned unjustly.

FiveThirtyEight says that there will probably never be another Kobe Bryant -- he took shot s that aren't taken now.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, January 26, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer, by Andrew Murray, 17

Still further to confirm this faith in the Father-love of God, Christ speaks a third word: ‘Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask Him.’  At first sight it might appear as if this thought made prayer less needful:  God knows far better than we what we need.  But as we get a deeper insight into what prayer really is, this truth will help much to strengthen our faith.  It will teach us that we do not need, as the heathen, with the multitude and urgency of our words, to compel an unwilling God to listen to us.  It will lead to a holy thoughtfulness and silence in prayer as it suggests the question:  Does my Father really know that I need this?  It will, when once we have been led by the Spirit to the certainty that our request is indeed something that, according to the Word, we do need for God’s glory, give us wonderful confidence to say, My Father knows I need it and must have it.  And if there be any delay in the answer, it will teach us in quiet perseverance to hold on:  FATHER! THOU KNOWEST I need it.  O the blessed liberty and simplicity of a child that Christ our Teacher would fain cultivate in us, as we draw near to God:  let us look up to the Father until His Spirit works it in us.  Let us sometimes in our prayers, when we are in danger of being so occupied with our fervent, urgent petitions, as to forget that the Father knows and hears, let us hold still and just quietly say:  My Father sees, my Father hears, my Father knows; it will help our faith to take the answer, and to say:  We know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.

This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Sunspots 764

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


Christianity: Christianity Today reports that evangelicals are receptive to prison reform, but that most of them haven't done anything to help prisoners.

Relevant reports on a letter from black church leaders, thanking Christianity Today for publishing a recent letter, calling for the removal of President Trump from office. The article says that his support among African-Americans is very low.

Computing: (and Christianity) A plea to pastors and theologians to be careful of what they say on social media -- check sources, and don't merely repeat what others who share your particular prejudices have posted, for example.

Humor: (and romance) Relevant reports on a dating site that requires agreement with a doctrinal statement. (A Calvinist one)


Politics: FiveThirtyEight has done a survey, which indicates that President Trump is less popular than Mike Pence, and almost as unpopular as Sarah Palin.

Pete Enns says that the word, or the country, America, is not in the Bible.

NPR says that there are a lot of border walls in the world, but Trump's wall is most expensive, and indicates why that is so.

Science: Gizmodo reports that a tiny parasite can affect the behavior of mice that are infected, including making them more likely to be caught by cats.

Gizmodo also reports on a flying robot, with wings from those of dead pigeons.

Listverse discusses 10 conspiracy theories put forth by President Donald Trump.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, January 19, 2020

With Christ in the school of prayer by Andrew Murray, 16

‘And thy Father, which seeth in secret, will recompense thee.’  Here Jesus assures us that secret prayer cannot be fruitless:  its blessing will show itself in our life.  We have but in secret, alone with God, to entrust our life before men to Him; He will reward us openly; He will see to it that the answer to prayer be made manifest in His blessing upon us.  Our Lord would thus teach us that as infinite Fatherliness and Faithfulness is that with which God meets us in secret, so on our part there should be the childlike simplicity of faith, the confidence that our prayer does bring down a blessing.  ‘He that cometh to God must believe that He is a rewarder of them that seek Him.’ Not on the strong or the fervent feeling with which I pray does the blessing of the closet depend, but upon the love and the power of the Father to whom I there entrust my needs.  And therefore the Master has but one desire:  Remember your Father is, and sees and hears in secret; go there and stay there, and go again from there in the confidence:  He will recompense.  Trust Him for it; depend upon Him:  prayer to the Father cannot be vain; He will reward you openly.

This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sunspots 763

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


Christianity: (and Politics) Relevant discusses the reaction to a recent Christianity Today editorial calling for the removal of President Trump.

Health: The Scientist reports that there has been a large increase in alcohol-related deaths, in the US.

The Scientist also reports that exposure to soil may help our immune systems.

Humor: (and romance) Relevant reports on a dating site that requires agreement with a doctrinal statement. (A Calvinist one)

Politics: NPR reports on a Pew poll that indicates that most people in other countries don't trust President Trump.

Christianity Today reports that 41 governors have certified that their states want to continue to accept refugees.

FiveThirtyEight reports on polling - we are ambiguous about what's been happening with Iran.

Science: Gizmodo reports on a new species of mantis, which impales its prey on spikes on its legs.

Gizmodo also reports on 5 newly discovered species of birds. This report has a couple of photos. The Scientist also reports on Indonesian birds, but mentions 10 new species.

Gizmodo also reports on the development of "robots" made from living frog embryo cells. These things can do various tasks, and, eventually, might be used to clear clogged blood vessels, and do other  medical jobs.

NPR reports on frigate birds, which can use clouds (!) to stay aloft for weeks at a time.

Sports: Congratulations to Vince Carter, who began playing in the NBA in the 1990s, and is still playing in the 2020s, as reported by FiveThirtyEight

(and race) FiveThirtyEight reports on the scarcity of non-white pro football coaches.

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

Listverse tells us some popular and interesting misconceptions about colors.


Thanks for looking!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray, 15

First, ‘Pray to thy Father which is in secret.’ God is a God who hides Himself to the carnal eye.  As long as in our worship of God we are chiefly occupied with our own thoughts and exercises, we shall not meet Him who is a Spirit, the unseen One.  But to the man who withdraws himself from all that is of the world and man, and prepares to wait upon God alone, the Father will reveal Himself.  As he forsakes and gives up and shuts out the world, and the life of the world, and surrenders himself to be led of Christ into the secret of God’s presence, the light of the Father’s love will rise upon him.  The secrecy of the inner chamber and the closed door, the entire separation from all around us, is an image of, and so a help to that inner spiritual sanctuary, the secret of God’s tabernacle, within the veil, where our spirit truly comes into contact with the Invisible One.  And so we are taught, at the very outset of our search after the secret of effectual prayer, to remember that it is in the inner chamber, where we are alone with the Father, that we shall learn to pray aright.  The Father is in secret:  in these words Jesus teaches us where He is waiting us, where He is always to be found.  

Christians often complain that private prayer is not what it should be.  They feel weak and sinful, the heart is cold and dark; it is as if they have so little to pray, and in that little no faith or joy.  They are discouraged and kept from prayer by the thought that they cannot come to the Father as they ought or as they wish.  Child of God!  listen to your Teacher.  He tells you that when you go to private prayer your first thought must be:  The Father is in secret, the Father waits me there.  Just because your heart is cold and prayerless, get you into the presence of the loving Father.  As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth you.  Do not be thinking of how little you have to bring God, but of how much He
wants to give you.  Just place yourself before, and look up into, His face; think of His love, His wonderful, tender, pitying love.  Just tell Him how sinful and cold and dark all is:  it is the Father’s loving heart will give light and warmth to yours.  O do what Jesus says:  Just shut the door, and pray to thy Father which is in secret.  Is it not wonderful?  to be able to go alone with God, the infinite God.  And then to look up and say:  My Father!


This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Sunspots 762


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

Christianity: An article in BioLogos discusses the relationship between Down Syndrome and the image of God.

Education: Grammarphobia on the use of shrink, shrank and shrunk.

Health: The Scientist reports that smelling natural surroundings appears to relieve stress.

The Scientist also reports that the effects of natural surroundings may be due, at least in part, to exercise.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight says that the majority of poll respondents believe that there is sufficient evidence to remove President Trump from office. But that is unlikely to happen, at least until the election of this year.

FiveThirtyEight also discusses the divisions about President Trump's actions in the Middle East, within the two major parties. (Not between, within!)

President Trump says that the US will target some Iranian cultural sites. NPR reports on how striking them would be illegal.

Science: Gizmodo, and other outlets, report that puffins use a tool to scratch themselves.

NPR reports on why some knots hold better than others.

Listverse tells us some common interesting misconceptions about colors.

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

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

The Firmament of Genesis 1:7

 
The image above was located by an advanced Google image search, which search specified that the results could be used, even modified, without violating copyright. It shows the firmament as a dome over the earth, with stars and moon fixed in the firmament. 

In biblical cosmology, the firmament is the structure above the atmosphere of Earth, conceived as a vast solid dome.[1] According to the Genesis creation narrative, God created the firmament to separate the "waters above" the earth from the "waters below" the earth.[2] The word is anglicized from the Latin firmamentum, which appears in the Vulgate, a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible.

Some public domain comments on "firmament," which word was used in the King James Version of the Bible:
Genesis 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Other versions use "expanse," and "vault," and probably other words.

Matthew Henry's commentary says this:
The command of God concerning it: Let there be a firmament, an expansion, so the Hebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visible above the earth, between it and the third heavens: the air, its higher, middle, and lower, regions-the celestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place where the stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven (v. 14, 15), and as low as the place where the birds fly, for that also is called the firmament of heaven, v. 20. When God had made the light, he appointed the air to be the receptacle and vehicle of its beams, and to be as a medium of communication between the invisible and the visible world; for, though between heaven and earth there is an inconceivable distance, yet there is not an impassable gulf, as there is between heaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way of intercourse. See Job 26:7; 37:18; Ps. 104:3; Amos 9:6.

John Calvin's commentary says this: The work of the second day is to provide an empty space around the circumference of the earth, that heaven and earth may not be mixed together. For since the proverb, 'to mingle heaven and earth,' denotes the extreme of disorder, this distinction ought to be regarded as of great importance. Moreover, the word "rakia" comprehends not only the whole region of the air, but whatever is open above us: as the word heaven is sometimes understood by the Latins. Thus the arrangement, as well of the heavens as of the lower atmosphere, is called "rakia" without discrimination between them, but sometimes the word signifies both together sometimes one part only, as will appear more plainly in our progress. I know not why the Greeks have chosen to render the word [indecipherable], which the Latins have imitated in the term, "firmamentum"; for literally it means expanse. And to this David alludes when he says that 'the heavens are stretched out by God like a curtain,' (Psalm 104:2.) If any one should inquire whether this vacuity did not previously exist, I answer, however true it may be that all parts of the earth were not overflowed by the waters; yet now, for the first time, a separation was ordained, whereas a confused admixture had previously existed. Moses describes the special use of this expanse, to divide the waters from the waters from which word arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere.

Robert Jamieson says:
6. firmament--an expanse--a beating out as a plate of metal: a name given to the atmosphere from its appearing to an observer to be the vault of heaven, supporting the weight of the watery clouds. By the creation of an atmosphere, the lighter parts of the waters which overspread the earth's surface were drawn up and suspended in the visible heavens, while the larger and heavier mass remained below. The air was thus "in the midst of the waters," that is, separated them; and this being the apparent use of it, is the only one mentioned, although the atmosphere serves other uses, as a medium of life and light.  

Interesting. The Bible was written in accord with the way contemporary people viewed the universe, and, at least in Henry's case, commented on from a related viewpoint.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray, 14

And the first thing the Lord teaches His disciples is that they must have a secret place for prayer; every one must have some solitary spot where he can be alone with his God.
Every teacher must have a schoolroom.  We have learnt to know and accept Jesus as our only teacher in the school of prayer.  He has already taught us at Samaria that worship is no longer confined to times and places; that worship, spiritual true worship, is a thing of the spirit and the life; the whole man must in his whole life be worship in spirit and truth.  And yet He wants each one to choose for himself the fixed spot where He can daily meet him.
That inner chamber, that solitary place, is Jesus’ schoolroom.  That spot may be anywhere; that spot may change from day to day if we have to change our abode; but that secret place there must be, with the quiet time in which the pupil places himself in the Master’s presence, to be by Him prepared to worship the Father.  There alone, but there most surely, Jesus comes to us to teach us to pray. A teacher is always anxious that his schoolroom should be bright and attractive, filled with the light and air of heaven, a place where pupils long to come, and love to stay.  In His first words on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus seeks to set the inner chamber before us in its most attractive light.  If we listen carefully, we soon notice what the chief thing is He has to tell us of our tarrying there.  Three times He uses the name of Father:
‘Pray to thy Father;’ ‘Thy Father shall recompense thee;’ ‘Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of.’  The first thing in closet-prayer is:  I must meet my Father.  The light that shines in the closet must be: the light of the Father’s countenance. The fresh air from heaven with which Jesus would have it filled, the atmosphere in which I am to breathe and pray, is:  God’s Father-love, God’s infinite Fatherliness.  Thus each thought or petition we breathe out will be simple, hearty, childlike trust in the Father.  This is how the Master teaches us to pray:  He brings us into the Father’s living presence.  What we pray there must avail.  Let us listen carefully to hear what the Lord has to say to us.


This post continues what is intended to be 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.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Sunspots 761


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


Christianity: (or something) NPR reports on how a couple who moved into a neighborhood recently had a deaf child, and the neighbors, who had all lived there a long time, have decided to learn sign language.

N. T. Wright on how most Christians have the wrong idea about heaven.

Christianity Today, and other outlets, report that a Chinese pastor has been sentenced to 9 years in prison.

Computing: Gizmodo reports on what people wanted most to know in the Wikipedia.

Gizmodo also reports that anti-robocalling legislation has been approved by Congress, and signed by President Trump. Gizmodo also guesses that it will help some, but maybe not enough.


Education: CBS News reports that Princeton University has honored lunchroom, and other non-professorial workers, by hanging their portraits.


Environment: A Relevant article on why Christians should care for the environment.

Health: A woman with sickle-cell anemia has been treated with her own cells, modified with CRISPR. The results are promising.
 
Politics: Relevant reports that white evangelicals are further from the mainstream in their attitudes concerning immigration than they are on abortion.

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

Thanks for looking!