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Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Science Night - Molecular Motors 


One-cell bacteria showing the flagellum. Our concern in this lesson is with the highly complex motor on the inside that makes this whip spin.

What is a flagellum? It is a whip that acts as a propeller. It is used for the purpose of propelling bacteria.

In Lesson 12, we talked about the fact that complex organisms clearly demonstrate design. Dr. Behe used the example of a mouse trap to show how complex micro-machines in a cell could not have evolved, because all the parts had to be there for the machine to work at all. Natural selection doesn’t work if you start with something that doesn’t work even a little bit. If you haven’t been through that lesson, you might want to take a look at it. But if not, this one reiterates much of what was introduced in that lesson, so if you pay attention to this lesson, you will be able to get the basic idea.

As you watch the video below, you will need to remind yourself continually that the motor you are seeing is tiny. As you are watching, it will fill the screen (actually an animation of it). But it is microscopic. You can’t see it without a microscope. Darwin did not know it existed, because he did not have a microscope. If he had, he never would have been able to write On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. But he did not have a microscope, so he had no idea how incredibly complex microorganisms are. So it was easy for him to imagine that life forms developed through a series of mutations.

Don’t get me wrong, even without a microscope, the highly religious doctrine of evolution is ludicrous, or at least very incomplete. Why do I say this? Because even if you allow yourself to suppose that higher organisms evolved from very primitive life forms, that does not explain where the environment in which they developed came from. That is why when I am talking to students, I rarely ask them about biology. I say, “Who put the stars in the sky.”

I once watched a debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins. I can’t remember exactly how Lennox put it, but his question to Dawkins was very similar to the one I often ask students in China. Dawkins said, “I don’t know. Maybe there will be a Darwin for that part some day.”

I was flabbergasted. I thought, “That’s the best you can do??” You see, even though evolutionists have so many explanations for how life developed, they have no theory at all about how the universe in which these organisms have flourished came to be. The universe in which those organism supposedly evolved could not itself have evolved by natural selection, because the universe is made of inorganic matter.

So where do we go from here? I have had a love-hate relationship with apologetics all my adult life. It just never made sense to me to waste time arguing with someone who chooses to believe something stupid. Why? This is what the Bible says:

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. (Proverbs 26:4)
Don’t lower yourself to argue with someone who is spouting nonsense. No one with any sense is going to believe him anyway. So I stayed away from apologetics. I liked C.S. Lewis. But I refused to read Mere Christianity. And I had no interest in the creation—evolution debates that were a common place of 70s academia. Then one day I was sitting in the library reading a science magazine—I think it was Scientific American. They were talking about how “debate was not really the proper format for resolving these issues.” Obviously they were losing. If they had been winning the debates, they would be talking about how important debates are.

You see, if an idea—such as the idea that a highly sophisticated motor that spins at 100,000 rpms could have evolved by a series of random mutations—begins to be regarded as not only legitimate, but even respectable, then sometimes you need to get down into the arena and debate that idea to expose it for the stupid nonsense that it is. Why? This is what the Bible says:

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit. (Proverbs 26:5)
So watch the video. The most interesting part of this video is about a curator in Germany who was setting up a display to celebrate Charles Darwin. He had set up a scale with Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life on one side, and a few books written by “creationist” nut cases on the other side. The display showed the side of the scale with Darwin’s book on it to be lower, showing that all the objections to Darwin’s idea put together could not outweigh Darwin’s logic. As he was building the display, he picked up one of these books he has dismissed as nonsense and started reading it. He couldn’t put it down. He had come from a totally secular, non-religious background, and had taken a lot for granted. But in reading these well reasoned arguments, he saw that these people were not stupid. They were intelligent scientists who were pointing out serious flaws in Darwin’s thinking. The curator who built the display to honor Darwin now no longer believes in Darwin. And you won’t either after you have seen this video.

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Thursday, July 08, 2021

My Facebook Censorship 


This is the message I get when I try to post a link to my blog on Facebook.

Censorship. I have written about it before, because it is a big issue in China. The government considers itself responsible for watching what people should be allowed to see or hear. But every government does that much, I guess. Where it becomes an issue for Americans is when the government censors political opinions. That is considered an assault on freedom of speech. So it should be of interest that even though I live in China, my experience with censorship of my opinions came, not from China, but from the United States.

That’s not quite true. Blogspot is blocked in China. But the whole website is blocked. This is the first time that my blog in particular was censored because of something I said which, although completely true (I was not censored for saying something false), was nonetheless considered unsuitable for the average Facebook user.

Now some may question how I know that this is censorship, and not merely an enforcement of the rules. Perhaps the best thing I can do is just tell you the story and you can decide for yourself.

Back in February of 2020, I wrote a blog post that featured the Moody Science film, “Red River of Life.” This is an amazing science documentary that I first saw when I was in high school fifty years ago. Amazingly, that film is not outdated at all. You can see that some of the equipment is quite out of date. But the conclusions made in that film are every bit as accurate as they were when I saw it at Hillcrest Academy.

But why would Facebook censor me because of a science film? Well, because I made a comment about one of the Democratic candidates. Pete Buttigieg is from Indiana, and he had assumed that when he ran for president, Vice President Pence (who is also from Indiana) would lash out at him because he is a homosexual. Mayor Peter kept waiting and waiting for Pence to attack him. He even wrote a response to the anticipated attack. But the attack never came. So instead of dropping the issue, Buttigieg published his response to the attack that had never been made. It was a completely dishonest thing do to, but the media played right along with it. The ABC headline says “Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vice President Mike Pence escalate feud over religion and sexuality.” Not true. Pence never said anything about it until he was asked, and his response was very professional. Read the article.

So I was irritated with Buttigieg’s creation of a false issue, responding to an attack that Pence never made. But if I wrote a blog post every time a politician said something dishonest, I wouldn’t have a life. So I found a very well written rebuttal of Mayor Pete’s dishonesty, posted it on Facebook, and let the matter go.

But later I saw something that I could not let pass. Mayor Pete said that the Bible associates life with breath, so since babies don’t breathe, it’s okay to kill them. That was simply beyond the pale and demanded a response.

His comment brought to mind a Moody science film I had seen more than fifty years ago when I was in high school. Believe it or not, I found it on YouTube. It’s called “Red River of Life.” When I was in high school, the debate at the time was not between heartbeat as an indication of life and breath as an indication of life. It was between heartbeat and brain wave. People were saying that a person should be considered dead if they had a flat brain wave, because then we could keep their heart beating, and harvest their organs. Without getting sidetracked by that debate, let me just say that the Bible is very clear on this issue. Leviticus 17:11 says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood…”

So the movie is not about abortion at all—it came out before Roe v. Wade. But it is a very good film and amazingly current even after fifty years. I used it because it directly addresses the issue of what constitutes life. But I am quite sure that the Facebook censors were not concerned about the movie. They were angered because I dared to criticize a prominent Democrat politician. But the issue I was addressing in my blog post was not his homosexuality. It was his dishonesty. If you did not know Mayor Pete, and read my article, you would not was not know he was a homosexual. I did not mention it in my blog post. I did address his lack of integrity, and I won’t back down from that. Pete Buttigieg is a deeply dishonest individual. Recently he was caught hauling his bicycle in a van to within a few blocks of his office so that he could be seen riding it to work.

But he’s a Democrat, and Facebook censors went ballistic. What happened next is the focus of today’s post. They blocked any reference to my blog from Facebook. Then they deleted all my Facebook posts that contained any link to my blog. Completely gone. No way to retrieve them. If you look above, you will see the notice I get if I try to link to my blog from Facebook. The notice says that my blog violates Facebook’s spam policy. So so let’s take a look at that policy. You can clearly see that merely linking to a different location does not constitute spam. If it did, then it would not be possible to link to other sources. In fact, years ago, Facebook had it set up so that I could have my blog posts automatically posted as a note on Facebook as soon as I submitted them.

What can I do? Can I sue them? Well, in a civil suit, you need to show damage. Technically, there was some damage, because they deleted a bunch of my Facebook posts. But every post they deleted was mainly just a link to my blog, and my blog was not affected, just the link to my blog in Facebook. I guess I could sue them for the inconvenience they created for me, but that would be tough too. You see, it’s not really more inconvenient for me, it’s just a little more cumbersome for Facebook readers. Facebook does not block links to Twitter at all. I can link to my Twitter account all I want. And Twitter does not block my blog. So now I have to put my blog link in Twitter and the Twitter link in Facebook. So Facebook readers have an extra mouse click, because they first have to go to the Twitter post, and then they can get to the blog post. It is a little inconvenient for those who come to my blog from Facebook, but it doesn’t really affect me that much, so I don’t know if there is any way to sue them. But I do think they should be denied immunity under Section 230 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Facebook is a private company, so they do have a right to restrict content that they do not agree with. They were not breaking the law when they deleted my posts. Editors do it all the time. Facebook is not required to be neutral. But then, in my opinion, they should not be entitled to the Section 230 provisions. And maybe someday nobody will be entitled to those provisions. Both Trump and Biden oppose 230 (although possibly for different reasons). What is really needed more than anything else is competition—the belief that both ideas should be allowed to be expressed, then debated, so that readers can decide for themselves which idea is most credible, and best substantiated by solid evidence and reasoning. I thought that’s what Facebook was. But recently, we have seen rogue staffers using Facebook rules falsely as a means of restricting content that does not comport with their left wing bias. If you slap an obscenity warning on something, it should be because that content actually contains obscenity, not because it contains truth that you find inconvenient. These people are not decent moral human beings. They are unprincipled scoundrels who hate anything that looks to them like holding up an absolute moral standard as a measure by which to judge society. But as Francis Schaeffer noted years ago in his ten-part series on Western civilization (How Shall We Then Live), “If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, the society is absolute.”

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Thursday, July 01, 2021

Streams in the Desert - July 

 

July 1

Promises Fulfilled

There shall be a performance. - Luke 1:45

My words shall be fulfilled in their season. - Luke 1:20

There shall be a performance of those things
That loving heart hath waited long to see;
Those words shall be fulfilled to which she clings,
Because her God hath promised faithfully;
And, knowing Him, she ne'er can doubt His Word;
"He speaks and it is done." The mighty Lord!

There shall be a performance of those things,
O burdened heart, rest ever in His care;
In quietness beneath His shadowing wings
Await the answer to thy longing prayer.
When thou hast "cast thy care," the heart then sings,
There shall be a performance of those things.

There shall be a performance of those things,
O tired heart, believe and wait and pray;
At eventide the peaceful vesper rings,
Though cloud and rain and storm have filled the day.
Faith pierces through the mist of doubt that bars
The coming night sometimes, and finds the stars.

There shall be a performance of those things,
O trusting heart, the Lord to thee hath told;
Let Faith and Hope arise, and plume their wings,
And soar towards the sunrise clouds of gold;
The portals of the rosy dawn swing wide,
Revealing joys the darkening night did hide.
Bessie Porter

Matthew Henry says: "We must depend upon the performance of the promise, when all the ways leading up to it are shut up. 'For all the promises of God in him are yea yes., and in him Amen so be it., unto the glory of God by us.' (2 Cor. 1:20).

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Science Night - Electric Transmission Lines 

This video gives a good description of power lines and how they work. But it occurred to me as I was watching this video that some of you may need some basic explanation of the various electrical entities, and how they interact and affect each other. The video gives several formulas, but to make it simple, I want to focus here on just three basic electrical realities:

E
Electromotive force (emf)The force pushing electricity through the wireVolts
I
CurrentFrom the French phrase intensité du courant, (current intensity)Amps
P
PowerThe overall power flowing through the wireWatts

To help understand how these three work together, I will use a river as an analogy. Many years ago, I was a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River (for about 10 minutes). I was trucking at the time, and I had a load going into the Twin Cities. I got there on a weekend and could not get my load off until Monday, so I basically had nothing to do. I was at a truck stop which was located right next to the river. There was a guy there offering drivers a free ride to a casino which was also situated on the river. I am not much of a gambler, but I thought it might be nice take a free ride on the river.

When I got on the boat, I started asking about it. It turned out that the owner of the boat was on board, and he was very congenial about showing me the two Cat engines that powered the craft. Then he took me up to the bridge where the captain was steering the ship. He told the captain to go ahead and take a break. I don’t know if the owner of the ship was authorized to navigate the craft, but he was, after all, the owner, so the captain obeyed and went down to the main deck to get a snack or something. As soon as the captain left, the owner turned to me and beckoned me to come over and tahe the wheel. He told me to keep the ship between the buoys on either side. I thought I was doing that pretty well, but a call came from the captain on the main deck to move the ship more toward one side. I did, but apparently not to the captain’s satisfaction. Remember, all this time he thought the owner was steering the ship. He became concerned and came up to the bridge. As soon as he saw me steering the ship he said, “I’ll take over now,” and took the wheel. That ended my career as a river boat pilot on the Mississippi.

I said all that to say that if you read Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, you will get a feel for the awesome power of the Mississippi River. But believe me, there is nothing like actually doing it. The immense power of that river is really extraordinary. Incredible power. Why? Because it was flowing so fast? No. It looked to be flowing very slowly. But there was just so much water. So, to complete the analogy, if we let the width of the river represent the electrical current in a wire, and the force which is pushing the river along represent the electromotive force (voltage), then the over all power of the river would represent the electrical power (P) measured in watts:

P = I * E, or Watts = Amps * Volts

There is a problem with my analogy, because we use the word "current" when talking about rivers, too. But it's different. The current of a river is really more analagous to electrical voltage, because it refers to the force of the flow. When we talk about a river having a swift current, we are not commenting on how wide it is. But with electricity, the word current refers more to magnitude. So just follow through with my analogy. A river flowing down a mountain would not be nearly as wide as the Mississippi, but since it is flowing down fast, the force with which it flows would be much greater per unit volume than the Mississippi. So a river narrower than the Mississippi could have the same amount of overall power if it is flowing downhill at a much faster rate. Easy to talk about, but actually it would be pretty tough to find a river that could compete with the Mississippi, because it is just so vast. But you get the idea.

But even if you have never been a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi like Mark Twain and I, I think you will be able to follow this video. It's pretty straightforward, and very informative.

As you watch it, you will see that if there is too much electricity flowing through a wire, the wire will melt. To move the same amount of power through the wire without heating the wire too much, we can greatly increase the voltage so that the current can be decreased (note the formula above). For example, 4 * 5 is 20. But 20 times 1 is also 20. You see, if we need one of the factors to be really low (in this case, current). We can raise the other factor up high to get the same value. But isn’t that very high voltage dangerous? Yes, and that’s why we need to keep the power lines up high so that little kids can’t touch them. Also, super high voltage electricity can sometimes jump through the air. But only for a short distance, so as long as the power lines are separated from other metal (ground) the electricity will stay in the wire and be taken to its destination with very little loss. Final Question: But is that really high voltage useful for every day type of stuff like powering household appliances? No, that’s why you have to have another transformer at the other end to bring the voltage back down so that it can be used.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Streams in the Desert - June 

 

June 1

Why Dost Thou Worry Thyself?

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward. - Exod. 14:15

This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing. - Isa. 28:12

Why dost thou worry thyself? What use can thy fretting serve? Thou art on board a vessel which thou couldst not steer even if the great Captain put thee at the helm, of which thou couldst not so much as reef a sail, yet thou worriest as if thou wert captain and helmsman. Oh, be quiet; God is Master!

Dost thou think that all this din and hurly-burly that is abroad betokens that God has left His throne?

No, man, His coursers rush furiously on, and His chariot is the storm; but there is a bit between their jaws, and He holds the reins, and guides them as He wills! Jehovah is Master yet; believe it; peace be unto thee! be not afraid. —C. H. Spurgeon

"Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
The storms are raging on God's deep—
God's deep, not thine; be still and sleep.

"Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God's hands shall still the tempter's sweep—
God's hands, not thine; be still and sleep.

"Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God's love is strong while night hours creep—
God's love, not thine; be still and sleep.

"Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep;
God's heaven will comfort those who weep--
God's heaven, not thine; be still and sleep."

I entreat you, give no place to despondency. This is a dangerous temptation--a refined, not a gross temptation of the adversary. Melancholy contracts and withers the heart, and renders it unfit to receive the impressions of grace. It magnifies and gives a false coloring to objects, and thus renders your burdens too heavy to bear. God's designs regarding you, and His methods of bringing about these designs, are infinitely wise. —Madame Guyon

Monday, May 31, 2021

Lab Leak Theory Revisited 


Closeup of Trump's notes, showing where he has crossed out "Corona" and replaced it with "Chinese." Click for larger image.

Really well written article (below) on the origins of the corona virus. I have been conflicted about this whole issue from the beginning. When I first saw the argument for the wet market theory, It seemed pretty compelling. Later, as we began to hear more about the Wuhan Virology lab, I wrote a blog post about that, and began to wonder if that could be the source of the problem, especially given the revelation that American inspectors had expressed grave concern about the safety of the lab two years before the corona virus emerged. They basically viewed it as an accident waiting to happen.

But to this date, neither the lab theory nor the natural emergence theory has been proven. And even the author of the article above does not believe the story is over. Here’s what he says:

Where we are so far. Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached.
So if that’s the case, why all the fuss all of a sudden? What triggered it was a report that three workers from the lab sought medical attention in November of 2019. So now suddenly everybody is up in arms and people of every political persuasion in America are getting on the lab theory bandwagon.

People are so fickle. I am not really arguing for one theory or another right now, I am talking about the swiftness with which the whole situation changes, based on information that if of questionable verity. Note this paragraph from the Reuters article.

The [Wall Street] Journal said current and former officials familiar with the intelligence expressed a range of views about the strength of the report's supporting evidence, with one unnamed person saying it needed "further investigation and additional corroboration."
So on the basis of an event that nobody is sure actually happened, everybody is now willing to change their opinion? This is my issue with this whole thing. “Journalists” have their thing they want to believe, and propagate their beliefs with sketchy evidence, and then, when their belief is shown to be nonsense, they abandon it, and seem to suffer no consequence for their dishonesty.

There is a fascinating discussion on The Edition podcast by scientists who have changed their opinion on the origins of the virus. They are quick to clarify that they are not committing themselves to the “lab leak” theory, they have just changed their minds about dismissing it. This is the right approach, I think. It needs to be investigated. But instead of serious scholarship, we have people on both sides latching on to their pet theories for largely political reasons, and the truth is lost or at least seriously delayed in the process.

One point that is raised in this discussion is the way Trump "weaponized" the Corona virus. I assume they are talking about Trump's use of "Chinese virus" in referring to the virus. In fairness to Trump, his use of that expression was in response to a tweet by the chief spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry saying that the Corona virus actually originated in the United States and was brought to China by the United States military. Trump graduated from a military academy and has a fondness for the military, so he was deeply angered by that tweet. Up until that time, he had been saying things like “an accident is an accident.” But after that tweet, he started referring to the virus as the “Chinese virus.” I am in a unique position to sympathize with Trump on this issue. I lived in Beijing during this time, and I can’t tell you how many times I would get on the subway and someone would get up and walk to a different part of the train, because they had been fed the line that the virus actually comes from foreigners. So I understand Trump’s frustration, but I do think his response was a bit clumsy, because he ended up blaming the whole country for the actions of one obnoxious diplomat. He should have called out the irresponsible diplomat who put out the tweet. Instead he ended up angering a lot of people by saying “Chinese virus,” and blaming the whole country of China, and the foreign ministry spokesman came off looking like a hero (to Chinese people who have limited access to information and don't know any better). Incredibly, the Global Times (People’s Daily) used this very spokesman as their point man in their response to the report that three lab workers had sought medical attention.

It’s partly a language issue. In English, the same word is used to refer to the Chinese people, the Chinese language, and to that which is of China. In Mandarin, these three are clearly distinguishable (Zhonguoren, Zhongwen, Zhonguo de). But in English, “Chinese,” “Chinese,” “Chinese.” All three are expressed the same way. So when Trump said “Chinese” virus, people didn’t necessarily know that he was merely saying that the virus came from China, and not from the U.S. military.

Speaking of vocabulary, there is another expression I hear a lot from Chinese sources that refers to the lab leak theory as a “conspiracy theory.” They evidently don’t know the meaning of the word. I don’t know anyone who is saying that a group of people conspired to release the virus deliberately, except for the one Chinese “whistleblower” who said that in her interview with Tucker Carlson, and—in my opinion—discredited herself by doing so.

Hear the words of Solomon:

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
You see, I am not saying this lady does not have anything good to say. But I have no interest in reading or hearing anything she has to say after hearing something so bizarre. Anybody who reads my blog knows that I criticize the Communist Party from time to time. I criticize everyone except God. But she is saying that the Chinese government deliberately attacked its own people by releasing a deadly virus. That's craziness, and Tucker should have called her on it. Oh, well. She got herself to America. Nice trick. Simpler than crossing the Rio Grande. Can you tell I have a low tolerance for dissident wannabes?

Getting back to my point: Most people who are trumpeting the lab leak theory are saying that it was leaked accidentally. An accident cannot be a conspiracy.

Another good example of Solomon's principle is an article I read recently by Gordon Chang. I don’t say that article contains no useful information. But near the end of the article is this nonsensical paragraph:

If Chinese scientists succeed in designing pathogens targeting only foreigners, the next bug from China could end non-Chinese societies. This would be Communist China’s weapon against the world.
Does Mr. Chang seriously believe that China could actually develop a virus to which Chinese are not susceptible, but which would be capable of infecting everybody else? We’re all humans, Mr. Chang. Racism is myth. There is only one race, and it is the human race. The idea that China could be attempting to wipe out every non-Chinese ethnicity is so bizarre I cannot comprehend how any sane person could suggest it.

We all need to take a deep breath and start thinking rationally. Here are my thoughts:

  1. There needs to be more investigation. The WHO report said that the lab leak idea was very unlikely. But Dr. Tedros, the head of the WHO insists that every hypothesis is on the table, effectively nullifying his own ageny’s report. This is telling. If Donald Trump repudiated the WHO report, no one would be surprised. We all know Trump doesn’t like the WHO. But when the very head of the agency that produced the report says that it is not conclusive, we are compelled to soldier on in our attempts to get to the bottom of this. His statement essentially nullifies the report of his own agency.

  2. We don’t know specifically where this virus came from—whether from the lab or a wet market of some kind. But we do know which country it came from, and we do know which city in that country it came from. Pretending that there is still come question about those two known facts is simply not honest.

  3. Will we ever know the answer to this riddle? Yes. That is inevitable. Facts are stubborn things, and they don’t care about politics. As information continues to trickle out, it will tend to point increasingly in one direction as against the others. It will then became incumbent on those who wish to dispute the prevailing belief to show that it could not be so. Mark my word: We WILL eventually know where this came from.

  4. The idea that a person or persons conspired to release this virus into the general population deliberately is completely bonkers. But the idea that a virus may have leaked from the Wuhan Virology Lab accidentally is not unreasonable at all, especially given the fact that this lab was known to be operating in a very unsafe manner two years before the virus erupted, as mentioned earlier in this post and in my previous post on the lab. From everything we know so far, the warnings were left unheeded, and no changes were made to make the lab less accident prone. So you could argue that the real wonder is that the disaster didn't happen much sooner, given the unsafe manner in which the lab was being operated (if indeed the lab leak theory turns out to be true).

  5. So far the CDC has not been allowed to inspect the Wuhan Lab. The WHO was finally allowed to visit the lab a year after the virus broke out, but it is not known how much freedom they were given to inspect the facility independently, and they came up with a conclusion that was dismissed as inconclusive by their own director, who insists that all hypotheses are still on the table. An inconclusive conclusion is a non-conclusion. The lab needs to be open to international inspectors. They need to be able to enter the lab themselves and inspect it themselves. If this does not happen, there will be a growing belief that China has something to hide.

  6. Some in the American media have deliberately downplayed the lab leak theory. They did not like it, because they knew that Trump tended to believe in it. There needs to be much more confrontation with these journalists propagandists, who have compromised integrity to avoid being on the same side as Trump, and dragged their feet at exposing corruption because they did not want to be seen as siding with him. When Trump was in office, they portrayed him as monster for suggesting things they now say themselves. As I said, his reponse to the disgusting tweet from the Chinese foreign ministry was clumsy, but he was more right than his haters in the American media. And infinitely more honest.

  7. Throughout the nineteenth century China was carved up by foreign powers who competed with each other to see who could get the biggest piece of the pie. The Brits actually went to war with China to force them to allow the opium trade, dooming many, many poor Chinese workers to a life of addiction and despair. China is extremely sensitive about foreigners telling China that they will take over and "fix" things. Among the common people there are many decent, honorable folks. Many of them tend to think the virus came from America, because that's what they have been told. The countries of the world have every right to insist on the right to pursue the origins of this deadly virus. But they must be careful to do it in the context of a very exploitive history, which has determined the Chinese to insist on the right to manage their own affairs.
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Friday, May 14, 2021

Science Night - Darwin's Methods 


Click for larger image.

Watch this seven-minute video. Can you decipher Meyer’s basic thesis? What he is basically saying is that if you are going to look for a cause for something, you should look for a cause currently observable that is known to produce the kind of thing you are looking for. So what current cause is known to produce information? He quotes Henry Quastler:

The creation of new information is habitually associated with conscious activity.
The essence of DNA is information:
The information density of DNA is remarkable — just one gram can store 215 petabytes, or 215 million gigabytes, of data. For context, the average hard drive in a laptop can house just one millionth of that amount. —John Cumbers
So what is the cause of the massive amount of information contained in the DNA molecule? Clearly it would involve some sort of conscious activity. The idea that the bringing in of DNA would be associated with conscious activity is not only rational, it is nonsensical to assume that something with such massive information storage capacity could come about without conscious activity, as a result of a crude accident of nature.

Meyer goes as far as to say that if Darwin had applied his own methods using the information we have available to day, he would have drawn very different conclusions than the ones we all study in our science books. Not sure about that, because I don’t know if mere lack of information was the primary cause of Darwin’s conclusions. But I guess I would say that if Darwin had had access to a microscope, the conclusions he came to would have been much harder to justify, which is why they are being challenged today. And there is no way his book Origin of Species could have been published today, because the title, at least, is overtly racist. Here is the full title of Darwin's classic: Origin of Species by Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life


Click for larger image.

In the video below, Michael Behe explains his growing skepticism of Darwin's theory, and he outlines some of the problems with it, particularly that scientists in Darwin's day had no idea how complex the human cell is, because they had never seen it.

If I could summarize the basic thesis of the Intelligent Design folks re: Darwinian evolution, it would look like this:

Darwin’s methods + today’s information = Intelligent Design

The general idea seems to be, “Now that we have microscopes and can see how complex the human cell actually is, there is no more excuse for believing a theory as juvenile as Darwin’s theory of evolution. The complexity of the cell makes obvious the existence, at some point in the process, of a vastly intelligent mind.”

I don’t know if I have expressed it just the way they would, but I would say that, while I agree with the Intelligent Design folks that the irreducible complexity of the cell makes evident the presence of intelligence in the development of this complexity, I believe that intelligent design was more than obvious long before there were microscopes. The question I pose to Chinese young people when I am talking about this, is not “How can something as complex as the human cell have evolved without direction?” My question is “Who put the stars in the sky?” You see, even if you believe that all life evolved originally from some sort of “primordial soup,” you still have to explain where that primordial soup came from. And where did the planet on which it existed come from? So the existence of an intelligent designer is not just obvious to anyone with a microscope. It is more than obvious to anyone who has ever looked into the night sky and tried to count the stars.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1)

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Saturday, May 01, 2021

Streams in the Desert - May 

 

January 1

New Year

"The land whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and valleys and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year." (Deut. 11:11-12).

Today dear friends, we stand upon the verge of the unknown. There lies before us the new year and we are going forth to possess it. Who can tell what we shall find? What new experiences, what changes shall come, what new needs shall arise? But here is the cheering, comforting, gladdening message from our Heavenly Father, "The Lord thy God careth for it." "His eyes are upon it away to the ending of the year."

All our supply is to come from the Lord. Here are springs that shall never dry; here are fountains and streams that shall never be cut off. Here, anxious one, is the gracious pledge of the Heavenly Father. If He be the Source of our mercies they can never fail us. No heat, no drought can parch that river, "the streams whereof make glad the city of God."

The land is a land of hills and valleys. It is not all smooth nor all down hill. If life were all one dead level the dull sameness would oppress us; we want the hills and the valleys. The hills collect the rain for a hundred fruitful valleys. Ah, so it is with us! It is the hill difficulty that drives us to the throne of grace and brings down the shower of blessing; the hills, the bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps grumble at, bring down the showers. How many have perished in the wilderness, buried under its golden sands, who would have lived and thriven in the hill-country; how many would have been killed by the frost, blighted with winds, swept desolate of tree and fruit but for the hill-stern, hard, rugged, so steep to climb. God's hills are a gracious protection for His people against their foes!

We cannot tell what loss and sorrow and trial are doing. Trust only. The Father comes near to take our hand and lead us on our way today. It shall be a good, a blessed new year!

He leads us on by paths we did not know;
Upward He leads us, though our steps be slow,
Though oft we faint and falter on the way,
Though storms and darkness oft obscure the day;
Yet when the clouds are gone,
We know He leads us on.

He leads us on through all the unquiet years;
Past all our dreamland hopes, and doubts and fears,
He guides our steps, through all the tangled maze
Of losses, sorrows, and o'erclouded days;
We know His will is done;
And still He leads us on.
--N.L. Zinzendorf

 

January 2

Climb Upward

"And there was an enlarging, and a winding about still upward to the side chambers: for the. winding about of the house went still upward round about the house: therefore the breadth of the house was still upward and so increased from the lowest chamber to the highest by the midst."(Ezek. 41:7).

"Still upward be thine onward course:
For this I pray today;
Still upward as the years go by,
And seasons pass away.

"Still upward in this coming year,
Thy path is all untried;
Still upward may'st thou journey on,
Close by thy Savior's side.

"Still upward e'en though sorrow come,
And trials crush thine heart;
Still upward may they draw thy soul,
With Christ to walk apart.

"Still upward till the day shall break,
And shadows all have flown;
Still upward till in Heaven you wake,
And stand before the throne."

We ought not to rest content in the mists of the valley when the summit of Tabor awaits us. How pure are the dews of the hills, how fresh is the mountain air, how rich the fare of the dwellers aloft, whose windows look into the New Jerusalem!

Many saints are content to live like men in coal mines, who see not the sun. Tears mar their faces when they might anoint them with celestial oil. Satisfied I am that many a believer pines in a dungeon when he might walk on the palace roof, and view the goodly land and Lebanon. Rouse thee, O believer, from thy low condition! Cast away thy sloth, thy lethargy, thy coldness, or whatever interferes with thy chaste and pure love to Christ. Make Him the source, the center, and the circumference of all thy soul's range of delight. Rest no longer satisfied with thy dwarfish attainments. Aspire to a higher, a nobler, a fuller life. Upward to heaven! Nearer to God! --Spurgeon

"I want to scale the utmost height,
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I'll pray, till heaven I've found,
Lord, lead me on to higher ground!"

Not many of us are living at our best. We linger in the lowlands because we are afraid to climb the mountains. The steepness and ruggedness dismay us, and so we stay in the misty valleys and do not learn the mystery of the hills. We do not know what we lose in our self-indulgence, what glory awaits us if only we had courage for the mountain climb, what blessing we should find if only we would move to the uplands of God. --J. R. M

"Too low they build who build beneath the stars."

 

January 3

Gentle Leading

"I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure." (Gen. 33:14).

What a beautiful picture of Jacob's thoughtfulness for the cattle and the children! He would not allow them to be overdriven even for one day. He would not lead on according to what a strong man like Esau could do and expected them to do, but only according to what they were able to endure. He knew exactly how far they could go in a day; and he made that his only consideration in arranging the marches. He had gone the same wilderness journey years before, and knew all about its roughness and heat and length, by personal experience. And so he said, "I will lead on softly." "For ye have not passed this way heretofore" (Josh.3:4.).

We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has. It is all untrodden and unknown ground to us, but He knows it all by personal experience. The steep bits that take away our breath, the stony bits that make our feet ache so, the hot shadeless stretches that make us feel so exhausted, the rushing rivers that we have to pass through--Jesus has gone through it all before us. "He was wearied with his journey." Not some, but all the many waters went over Him, and yet did not quench His love. He was made a perfect Leader by the things which He suffered. "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." Think of that when you are tempted to question the gentleness of His leading. He is remembering all the time; and not one step will He make you take beyond what your foot is able to endure. Never mind if you think it will not be able for the step that seems to come next; either He will so strengthen it that it shall be able, or He will call a sudden halt, and you shall not have to take it at all. --Frances Ridley Havergal

In "pastures green"? Not always; sometimes He
Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.
--Barry

 

January 4

Believing Prayer

"Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way." (John 4:50).

"When ye pray, believe" (Mark 11:24).

When there is a matter that requires definite prayer, pray till you believe God, until with unfeigned lips you can thank Him for the answer. If the answer still tarries outwardly, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident that you are not definitely believing for it. Such a prayer in place of being a help will be a hindrance; and when you are finished praying, you will find that your faith has weakened or has entirely gone. The urgency that you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly from self and Satan. It may not be wrong to mention the matter in question to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting, but be sure you do so in such a way that it implies faith. Do not pray yourself out of faith. You may tell Him that you are waiting and that you are still believing Him and therefore praise Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully clinches faith as to be so sure of the answer that you can thank God for it. Prayers that pray us out of faith deny both God's promise in His Word and also His whisper "Yes," that He gave us in our hearts. Such prayers are but the expression of the unrest of one's heart, and unrest implies unbelief in reference to the answer to prayer. "For we which have believed do enter into rest" (Heb. 4:3). This prayer that prays ourselves out of faith frequently arises from centering our thoughts on the difficulty rather than on God's promise. Abraham "considered not his own body," "he staggered not at the promise of God" (Rom. 4:19, 20). May we watch and pray that we enter not into temptation of praying ourselves out of faith. --C. H. P.

Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but a taking God at His Word. --Evans

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. --George Mueller

You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us the promises in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. It is then that faith wins its crown. That is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry, "I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me."

"Believe and trust; through stars and suns,
Through life and death, through soul and sense,
His wise, paternal purpose runs;
The darkness of His Providence
Is starlit with Divine intents."

 

January 5

None to Help But God

"Lord, there is none beside thee to help." (2 Chron. 14:11, RV).

Remind God of His entire responsibility. "There is none beside thee to help." The odds against Asa were enormous. There was a million of men in arms against him, besides three hundred chariots. It seemed impossible to hold his own against that vast multitude. There were no allies who would come to his help; his only hope, therefore, was in God. It may be that your difficulties have been allowed to come to so alarming a pitch that you may be compelled to renounce all creature aid, to which in lesser trials you have had recourse, and cast yourself back on your Almighty Friend.

Put God between yourself and the foe. To Asa's faith, Jehovah seemed to stand between the might of Zerah and himself, as one who had no strength. Nor was he mistaken. We are told that the Ethiopians were destroyed before the Lord and before His host, as though celestial combatants flung themselves against the foe in Israel's behalf, and put the large host to rout, so that Israel had only to follow up and gather the spoil. Our God is Jehovah of hosts, who can summon unexpected reinforcements at any moment to aid His people. Believe that He is there between you and your difficulty, and what baffles you will flee before Him, as clouds before the gale. --F. B. Meyer

"When nothing whereon to lean remains,
When strongholds crumble to dust;

When nothing is sure but that God still reigns,
That is just the time to trust.

"'Tis better to walk by faith than sight,
In this path of yours and mine;

And the pitch-black night, when there's no outer light
Is the time for faith to shine."

Abraham believed God, and said to sight, "Stand back!" and to the laws of nature, "Hold your peace!" and to a misgiving heart, "Silence, thou lying tempter!" He believed God. --Joseph Parker

 

January 6

Step-By-Step Grace

"When thou passest through the waters...they shall not overflow thee"(Isa. 43:2).

God does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are on the edge of our need, God's hand is stretched out.

Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their floods before you can claim the promise. Many people dread death, and lament that they have not "dying grace." Of course, they will not have dying grace when they are in good health, in the midst of life's duties, with death far in advance. Why should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need then, living grace; then dying grace when they come to die. --J. R. M.

"When thou passest through the waters"
Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our refuge,
And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
He, the faithful God and true:
"When thou comest to the waters

Thou shalt not go down, BUT THROUGH."

Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
Sweeping over heart and brain
They shall never overflow us
For we know His word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
He will lead us safely through.

Threatening breakers of destruction,
Doubt's insidious undertow,
Shall not sink us, shall not drag us
Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise shall sustain us,
Praise the Lord, whose Word is true!
We shall not go down, or under,
For He saith, "Thou passest THROUGH."
--Annie Johnson Flint

 

January 7

Contentment

"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."(Phil. 4:11).

Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart's-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. "Well, heart's-ease, I'm glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened." "No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart's-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart's-ease that I can."

"Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God's heritage
Can do it so well as you."

They who are God's without reserve, are in every state content; for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an hundredfold.

 

January 8

Showers and Sunshine

"I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing."(Ezek. 34:26).

What is thy season this morning? Is it a season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. "As thy day so shall thy strength be." "I will give thee showers of blessing." The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God's blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting grace, He will also give comforting grace. He will send "showers of blessings." Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering. --Spurgeon

"Let but thy heart become a valley low,
And God will rain on it till it will overflow."

Thou, O Lord, canst transform my thorn into a flower. And I want my thorn transformed into a flower. Job got the sunshine after the rain, but has the rain been all waste? Job wants to know, I want to know, if the shower had nothing to do with the shining. And Thou canst tell me Thy Cross can tell me. Thou hast crowned Thy sorrow. Be this my crown, O Lord. I only triumph in Thee when I have learned the radiance of the rain. --George Matheson

The fruitful life seeks showers as well as sunshine.

"The landscape, brown and sere beneath the sun,
Needs but the cloud to lift it into life;
The dews may damp the leaves of tree and flower,
But it requires the cloud-distilled shower
To bring rich verdure to the lifeless life.

"Ah, how like this, the landscape of a life:
Dews of trial fall like incense, rich and sweet;
But bearing little in the crystal tray
Like nymphs of night, dews lift at break of day
And transient impress leave, like lips that meet.

"But clouds of trials, bearing burdens rare,
Leave in the soul, a moisture settled deep:
Life kindles by the magic law of God;
And where before the thirsty camel trod,
There richest beauties to life's landscape leap.

"Then read thou in each cloud that comes to thee
The words of Paul, in letters large and clear:
So shall those clouds thy soul with blessing feed,
And with a constant trust as thou dost read,
All things together work for good. Fret not, nor fear!"

 

January 9

Made Perfect Through Suffering

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18).

I kept for nearly a year the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. It is very peculiar in its construction. A narrow opening is left in the neck of the flask, through which the perfect insect forces its way, so that a forsaken cocoon is as entire as one still tenanted, no rupture of the interlacing fibers having taken place. The great disproportion between the means of egress and the size of the imprisoned insect makes one wonder how the exit is ever accomplished at all--and it never is without great labor and difficulty. It is supposed that the pressure to which the moth's body is subjected in passing through such a narrow opening is a provision of nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings, these being less developed at the period of emerging from the chrysalis than they are in other insects.

I happened to witness the first efforts of my prisoned moth to escape from its long confinement. During a whole forenoon, from time to time, I watched it patiently striving and struggling to get out. It never seemed able to get beyond a certain point, and at last my patience was exhausted. Very probably the confining fibers were drier and less elastic than if the cocoon had been left all winter on its native heather, as nature meant it to be. At all events I thought I was wiser and more compassionate than its Maker, and I resolved to give it a helping hand. With the point of my scissors I snipped the confining threads to make the exit just a very little easier, and lo! immediately, and with perfect ease, out crawled my moth dragging a huge swollen body and little shriveled wings. In vain I watched to see that marvelous process of expansion in which these silently and swiftly develop before one's eyes; and as I traced the exquisite spots and markings of divers colors which were all there in miniature, I longed to see these assume their due proportions and the creature to appear in all its perfect beauty, as it is, in truth, one of the loveliest of its kind. But I looked in vain. My false tenderness had proved its ruin. It never was anything but a stunted abortion, crawling painfully through that brief life which it should have spent flying through the air on rainbow wings.

I have thought of it often, often, when watching with pitiful eyes those who were struggling with sorrow, suffering, and distress; and I would fain cut short the discipline and give deliverance. Short-sighted man! How know I that one of these pangs or groans could be spared? The far-sighted, perfect love that seeks the perfection of its object does not weakly shrink from present, transient suffering. Our Father's love is too true to be weak. Because He loves His children, He chastises them that they may be partakers of His holiness. With this glorious end in view, He spares not for their crying. Made perfect through sufferings, as the Elder Brother was, the sons of God are trained up to obedience and brought to glory through much tribulation. --Tract.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Covid Screening in China 


Click for larger image

I have been hearing a lot about the possibility of having Covid “passports” in America. The picture you see above is not a passport. It is the standard Covid screen that comes up on my phone in China. I don’t need to use it all the time, but if I try to enter a government office I do, and sometimes when I go to the partk they will make me bring it up on my phone.

As you can see, the color is green. That means that I have only been to green areas—in other words, areas that have no known cases of the corona virus. That’s mainly because I have stayed here in Kunming since I arrived the end of May last year. If if ever showed up red, I would probably be quarantined. But I don’t expect that to happen as long as I stay right here for the duration.

So what’s the difference between this and a “passport?” A passport requires you to do something. You need to get vaccinated before you can get your passport. This screening only requires that you not to do something—namely go to an area that is not “green.” So it is much easier to comply with as long as you don’t move around too much.

But many Americans would object even to something like this. Why? Because they don’t like the feeling that the government is tracking them. But in China, especially when you’re a foreigner, it is actually a benefit to be able to show that clearly that you have not been to a dangerous area.

When my landlady informed me last spring that the police had told her I had to leave my village in the Western hills of Beijing, I decided to move to Kunming. I didn’t know it at the time, but fortunately, last spring there was a period of fifty days when there were no new cases in Beijing. Being able to prove that I had been in Beijing continually since bcfore the virus started really helped me. Three different government officers came to me during the night of my train trip. But in the end, they allowed me to get off the train, because I had been in an area where there was no corona virus.

Every once in a while I hear about a case here in Yunnan Province. At Christmas time, there was a case at a local hospital. Someone had flown in from Chengdu. The police actually came to the church I go to and shut down the Christmas service and told everyone to go home. But they managed to get this person isolated, so there were no more cases. A week or two ago, there were some laborers who came in from Burma and I guess one or two of them had the virus. But they get it taken care of quickly.

A Canadian friend of mine told me that actually all of Yunnan is green, so I guess I could travel within this province. But I am strongly disinclined to do that. Better to stay put on this virus free island until this is over.

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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Streams in the Desert - April 

 

February 1

"This thing is from me." (1 Kings 12:24).

"Life's disappointments are veiled love's appointments." --Rev. C. A. Fox

My child, I have a message for you today; let me whisper it in your ear, that it may gild with glory any storm clouds which may arise, and smooth the rough places upon which you may have to tread. It is short, only five words, but let them sink into your inmost soul; use them as a pillow upon which to rest your weary head. This thing is from Me.

Have you ever thought of it, that all that concerns you concerns Me too? For, "he that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye" (Zech. 2:8). You are very precious in My sight. (Isa. 43:4) Therefore, it is My special delight to educate you.

I would have you learn when temptations assail you, and the "enemy comes in like a flood," that this thing is from Me, that your weakness needs My might, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.

Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, who never consult your taste, who put you in the background? This thing is from Me. I am the God of circumstances. Thou camest not to thy place by accident, it is the very place God meant for thee.

Have you not asked to be made humble? See then, I have placed you in the very school where this lesson is taught; your surroundings and companions are only working out My will.

Are you in money difficulties? Is it hard to make both ends meet? This thing is from Me, for I am your purse-bearer and would have you draw from and depend upon Me. My supplies are limitless (Phil.4:19). I would have you prove my promises. Let it not be said of you, "In this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God" (Deut. 1:32).

Are you passing through a night of sorrow? This thing is from Me. I am the Man of Sorrows and acquainted with grief. I have let earthly comforters fail you, that by turning to Me you may obtain everlasting consolation (2 Thess. 2:16, 17). Have you longed to do some great work for Me and instead have been laid aside on a bed of pain and weakness? This thing is from Me. I could not get your attention in your busy days and I want to teach you some of my deepest lessons. "They also serve who only stand and wait." Some of My greatest workers are those shut out from active service, that they may learn to wield the weapon of all--prayer.

This day I place in your hand this pot of holy oil. Make use of it free, my child. Let every circumstance that arises, every word that pains you, every interruption that would make you impatient, every revelation of your weakness be anointed with it. The sting will go as you learn to see Me in all things. --Laura A. Barter Snow

"'This is from Me,' the Saviour said,
As bending low He kissed my brow,
'For One who loves you thus has led.
Just rest in Me, be patient now,
Your Father knows you have need of this,
Tho', why perchance you cannot see.
Grieve not for things you've seemed to miss.
The thing I send is best for thee.'

"Then, looking through my tears, I plead,
'Dear Lord, forgive, I did not know,
'Twill not be hard since Thou dost tread,
Each path before me here below.
And for my good this thing must be,
His grace sufficient for each test.
So still I'll sing, "Whatever be
God's way for me is always best."'"

 

February 2

"In the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft: in his quiver hath he hid me." (Isa. 49:2).

"In the shadow." We must all go there sometimes. The glare of the daylight is too brilliant; our eyes become injured, and unable to discern the delicate shades of color, or appreciate neutral tints--the shadowed chamber of sickness, the shadowed house of mourning, the shadowed life from which the sunlight has gone.

But fear not! It is the shadow of God's hand. He is leading thee. There are lessons that can be learned only there.

The photograph of His face can only be fixed in the dark chamber. But do not suppose that He has cast thee aside. Thou art still in His quiver; He has not flung thee away as a worthless thing.

He is only keeping thee close till the moment comes when He can send thee most swiftly and surely on some errand in which He will be glorified. Oh, shadowed, solitary ones, remember how closely the quiver is bound to the warrior, within easy reach of the hand, and guarded jealously. --Christ in Isaiah, Meyer

In some spheres the shadow condition is the condition of greatest growth. The beautiful Indian corn never grows more rapidly than in the shadow of a warm summer night. The sun curls the leaves in the sultry noon light, but they quickly unfold, if a cloud slips over the sky. There is a service in the shadow that is not in the shine. The world of stellar beauty is never seen at its best till the shadows of night slip over the sky. There are beauties that bloom in the shade that will not bloom in the sun. There is much greenery in lands of fog and clouds and shadow. The florist has "evening glories" now, as well as "morning glories." The "evening glory" will not shine in the noon's splendor, but comes to its best as the shadows of evening deepen.

If all of life were sunshine,
Our faces would be fain
To feel once more upon them
The cooling splash of rain.
--Henry Van Dyke

 

February 3

"I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure." (Gen. 33:14).

What a beautiful picture of Jacob's thoughtfulness for the cattle and the children! He would not allow them to be overdriven even for one day. He would not lead on according to what a strong man like Esau could do and expected them to do, but only according to what they were able to endure. He knew exactly how far they could go in a day; and he made that his only consideration in arranging the marches. He had gone the same wilderness journey years before, and knew all about its roughness and heat and length, by personal experience. And so he said, "I will lead on softly." "For ye have not passed this way heretofore" (Josh.3:4.).

We have not passed this way heretofore, but the Lord Jesus has. It is all untrodden and unknown ground to us, but He knows it all by personal experience. The steep bits that take away our breath, the stony bits that make our feet ache so, the hot shadeless stretches that make us feel so exhausted, the rushing rivers that we have to pass through--Jesus has gone through it all before us. "He was wearied with his journey." Not some, but all the many waters went over Him, and yet did not quench His love. He was made a perfect Leader by the things which He suffered. "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." Think of that when you are tempted to question the gentleness of His leading. He is remembering all the time; and not one step will He make you take beyond what your foot is able to endure. Never mind if you think it will not be able for the step that seems to come next; either He will so strengthen it that it shall be able, or He will call a sudden halt, and you shall not have to take it at all. --Frances Ridley Havergal

In "pastures green"? Not always; sometimes He
Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on the hill-tops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys, where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.
--Barry

 

February 4

"Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way." (John 4:50).

"When ye pray, believe" (Mark 11:24).

When there is a matter that requires definite prayer, pray till you believe God, until with unfeigned lips you can thank Him for the answer. If the answer still tarries outwardly, do not pray for it in such a way that it is evident that you are not definitely believing for it. Such a prayer in place of being a help will be a hindrance; and when you are finished praying, you will find that your faith has weakened or has entirely gone. The urgency that you felt to offer this kind of prayer is clearly from self and Satan. It may not be wrong to mention the matter in question to the Lord again, if He is keeping you waiting, but be sure you do so in such a way that it implies faith. Do not pray yourself out of faith. You may tell Him that you are waiting and that you are still believing Him and therefore praise Him for the answer. There is nothing that so fully clinches faith as to be so sure of the answer that you can thank God for it. Prayers that pray us out of faith deny both God's promise in His Word and also His whisper "Yes," that He gave us in our hearts. Such prayers are but the expression of the unrest of one's heart, and unrest implies unbelief in reference to the answer to prayer. "For we which have believed do enter into rest" (Heb. 4:3). This prayer that prays ourselves out of faith frequently arises from centering our thoughts on the difficulty rather than on God's promise. Abraham "considered not his own body," "he staggered not at the promise of God" (Rom. 4:19, 20). May we watch and pray that we enter not into temptation of praying ourselves out of faith. --C. H. P.

Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but a taking God at His Word. --Evans

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety. --George Mueller

You will never learn faith in comfortable surroundings. God gives us the promises in a quiet hour; God seals our covenants with great and gracious words, then He steps back and waits to see how much we believe; then He lets the tempter come, and the test seems to contradict all that He has spoken. It is then that faith wins its crown. That is the time to look up through the storm, and among the trembling, frightened seamen cry, "I believe God that it shall be even as it was told me."

"Believe and trust; through stars and suns,
Through life and death, through soul and sense,
His wise, paternal purpose runs;
The darkness of His Providence
Is starlit with Divine intents."

 

February 5

"Lord, there is none beside thee to help." (2 Chron. 14:11, RV).

Remind God of His entire responsibility. "There is none beside thee to help." The odds against Asa were enormous. There was a million of men in arms against him, besides three hundred chariots. It seemed impossible to hold his own against that vast multitude. There were no allies who would come to his help; his only hope, therefore, was in God. It may be that your difficulties have been allowed to come to so alarming a pitch that you may be compelled to renounce all creature aid, to which in lesser trials you have had recourse, and cast yourself back on your Almighty Friend.

Put God between yourself and the foe. To Asa's faith, Jehovah seemed to stand between the might of Zerah and himself, as one who had no strength. Nor was he mistaken. We are told that the Ethiopians were destroyed before the Lord and before His host, as though celestial combatants flung themselves against the foe in Israel's behalf, and put the large host to rout, so that Israel had only to follow up and gather the spoil. Our God is Jehovah of hosts, who can summon unexpected reinforcements at any moment to aid His people. Believe that He is there between you and your difficulty, and what baffles you will flee before Him, as clouds before the gale. --F. B. Meyer

"When nothing whereon to lean remains,
When strongholds crumble to dust;

When nothing is sure but that God still reigns,
That is just the time to trust.

"'Tis better to walk by faith than sight,
In this path of yours and mine;

And the pitch-black night, when there's no outer light
Is the time for faith to shine."

Abraham believed God, and said to sight, "Stand back!" and to the laws of nature, "Hold your peace!" and to a misgiving heart, "Silence, thou lying tempter!" He believed God. --Joseph Parker

 

February 6

"When thou passest through the waters...they shall not overflow thee"(Isa. 43:2).

God does not open paths for us in advance of our coming. He does not promise help before help is needed. He does not remove obstacles out of our way before we reach them. Yet when we are on the edge of our need, God's hand is stretched out.

Many people forget this, and are forever worrying about difficulties which they foresee in the future. They expect that God is going to make the way plain and open before them, miles and miles ahead; whereas He has promised to do it only step by step as they may need. You must get to the waters and into their floods before you can claim the promise. Many people dread death, and lament that they have not "dying grace." Of course, they will not have dying grace when they are in good health, in the midst of life's duties, with death far in advance. Why should they have it then? Grace for duty is what they need then, living grace; then dying grace when they come to die. --J. R. M.

"When thou passest through the waters"
Deep the waves may be and cold,
But Jehovah is our refuge,
And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
He, the faithful God and true:
"When thou comest to the waters

Thou shalt not go down, BUT THROUGH."

Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
Sweeping over heart and brain
They shall never overflow us
For we know His word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
He will lead us safely through.

Threatening breakers of destruction,
Doubt's insidious undertow,
Shall not sink us, shall not drag us
Out to ocean depths of woe;
For His promise shall sustain us,
Praise the Lord, whose Word is true!
We shall not go down, or under,
For He saith, "Thou passest THROUGH."
--Annie Johnson Flint

 

February 7

"I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."(Phil. 4:11).

Paul, denied of every comfort, wrote the above words in his dungeon. A story is told of a king who went into his garden one morning, and found everything withered and dying. He asked the oak that stood near the gate what the trouble was. He found it was sick of life and determined to die because it was not tall and beautiful like the pine. The pine was all out of heart because it could not bear grapes, like the vine. The vine was going to throw its life away because it could not stand erect and have as fine fruit as the peach tree. The geranium was fretting because it was not tall and fragrant like the lilac; and so on all through the garden. Coming to a heart's-ease, he found its bright face lifted as cheery as ever. "Well, heart's-ease, I'm glad, amidst all this discouragement, to find one brave little flower. You do not seem to be the least disheartened." "No, I am not of much account, but I thought that if you wanted an oak, or a pine, or a peach tree, or a lilac, you would have planted one; but as I knew you wanted a heart's-ease, I am determined to be the best little heart's-ease that I can."

"Others may do a greater work,
But you have your part to do;
And no one in all God's heritage
Can do it so well as you."

They who are God's without reserve, are in every state content; for they will only what He wills, and desire to do for Him whatever He desires them to do; they strip themselves of everything, and in this nakedness find all things restored an hundredfold.

 

February 8

Showers and Sunshine

"I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing."(Ezek. 34:26).

What is thy season this morning? Is it a season of drought? Then that is the season for showers. Is it a season of great heaviness and black clouds? Then that is the season for showers. "As thy day so shall thy strength be." "I will give thee showers of blessing." The word is in the plural. All kinds of blessings God will send. All God's blessings go together, like links in a golden chain. If He gives converting grace, He will also give comforting grace. He will send "showers of blessings." Look up today, O parched plant, and open thy leaves and flowers for a heavenly watering. --Spurgeon

"Let but thy heart become a valley low,
And God will rain on it till it will overflow."

Thou, O Lord, canst transform my thorn into a flower. And I want my thorn transformed into a flower. Job got the sunshine after the rain, but has the rain been all waste? Job wants to know, I want to know, if the shower had nothing to do with the shining. And Thou canst tell me Thy Cross can tell me. Thou hast crowned Thy sorrow. Be this my crown, O Lord. I only triumph in Thee when I have learned the radiance of the rain. --George Matheson

The fruitful life seeks showers as well as sunshine.

"The landscape, brown and sere beneath the sun,
Needs but the cloud to lift it into life;
The dews may damp the leaves of tree and flower,
But it requires the cloud-distilled shower
To bring rich verdure to the lifeless life.

"Ah, how like this, the landscape of a life:
Dews of trial fall like incense, rich and sweet;
But bearing little in the crystal tray
Like nymphs of night, dews lift at break of day
And transient impress leave, like lips that meet.

"But clouds of trials, bearing burdens rare,
Leave in the soul, a moisture settled deep:
Life kindles by the magic law of God;
And where before the thirsty camel trod,
There richest beauties to life's landscape leap.

"Then read thou in each cloud that comes to thee
The words of Paul, in letters large and clear:
So shall those clouds thy soul with blessing feed,
And with a constant trust as thou dost read,
All things together work for good. Fret not, nor fear!"

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