Harmony of the Gospels – Updated

About ten years ago, I transcribed a scanned PDF version of A. T. Robertson’s book, A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ. I had received comments from someone with errors they had found in my transcription, but set them aside to do on the proverbial “later” and forgot about them. Until recently, that is, when someone else contacted me saying they had found the resource and an error. I dug up the old corrections, made all of them, reformatted the file, and posted it here.

This Site is Going Offline

I have decided to shut down my CountryKeepers website and this weblog at the end of 2020.  Thank you for following along with the daily Bible readings.  I hope that the site was useful to you.  Gary

Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?

Thought on that topic by Bodie Hodge from Answers in Genesis.

To clarify some points though, neither we nor other Christians “worship” a pagan holiday or any holiday. We worship God on the day that is set aside as Christmas. We take time to remember (not worship) the birth of Christ on that day. This is important because we often get wrapped up in the wrong things…

Horrible Website Programming at Sirius/XM

I am a Sirius/XM subscriber and just tried to find a piece of programming information on their website.  Specifically, I was looking for the site for the Bluegrass Junction channel on Sirius/XM.  I knew the Sirius/XM homepage was at http://www.siriusxm.com and knew that they had channel lineups available on the site.  I figured I could easily click through to one of them, find the channel and get to the Bluegrass Junction website.

Hoo boy, was I wrong!

The website programming at siriusxm.com is right up there with the absolute worst I’ve seen.  I’ve found three reason why the programming there is horrible.   All stemmed from trying to do this one simple task.  I’m posting details here in hopes of pointing the Sirius/XM team to them.  You’ll see why in the third issue described below.

By the way, I have since found the information I was looking for.  Ironically, the programming information on the siriusxm.com website was wrong and didn’t reflect programming unique to tomorrow.

Here’s issue number one.  Whenever I try to pull up a channel lineup on siriusxm.com, the website prevents me from getting that information by asking about my car.  If I click on What’s On – Program Schedules or What’s On – Channel Lineup by Package, a list briefly comes up that looks like it will have the information I need, but that list is quickly covered up by a popup that looks like this.  Click to see a bigger version.

There is no way I can see to get past that screen without entering information about my car.  Clicking on the “I don’t see my car listed” option takes me to a page that gives me three equally useless options:

  1. Go back and try again
  2. Go back to the siriusxm.com home page
  3. Look at radios to buy

I’ve since discovered that I can click the “I only listen online” option to get the information, but that page requires me to lie to do so.  It gives me two choices:

  1. Select the type of home/portable radio I have (I don’t have one)
  2. Select that I listed exclusively online (I also listen in my truck)

The second issue I found was with their customer feedback form, here.  To submit a question, or feedback in my case, you have to select a category from a dropdown menu.  There is no category entry for general feedback, for website feedback or for “other”.  Here’s what the top part of that dropdown list looks like.

The third issue was the topper for me.  The icing on the cake, if you will.  After filling out the feedback/question form and clicking the submit button, the form popped up some already answered questions it thought were relevant and might answer the question I was asking.  Of course, none did, but that’s not the issue.  Once you look through those and click to submit your question anyway, it doesn’t submit.  There is a little spinner graphic that comes on but it never goes away.  It’s been spinning now for a good fifteen minutes.  Here’s what that looks like, minus the spinning.

This actually was kind of amusing, in a sad sort of way.  I figure maybe Sirius/XM isn’t all that interested in getting feedback.

I’ll try to get the feedback to them through their Twitter account.  I don’t have high hopes.

Bad Website Design at PC Magazine

I believe the people responsible for programming the PC Magazine website don’t test their work all that well.  Surely they cannot have chosen to do this deliberately.  I followed a link in an email from them to this page.

I have Chrome running not full screen, but wide enough that most websites show up well.  From a text standpoint, the site does just fine.  From a site navigation standpoint, not so much.  The “share this article” bar on the left blocks out some of the text and cannot apparently be hidden.  The “all reviews” bar on the top blocks a little, too, but not so bad.  Click the image below for a full size version.

PCMag Windowed-Screen

If I maximize Chrome, the window spreads out and shows up just fine.  Same deal, click the window to see a full size version.

PCMag Full-Screen

The text flows from line to line without issue, but the extras on their page don’t do so well.  Bad form.

WordPress Backup to Dropbox Error Resolution

I discovered that I had some massive error_log files on my WordPress weblogs today.  One was 111 MB.  All were filled with lines like these:

[05-Mar-2016 11:01:33 UTC] WordPress database error Column ‘offset’ cannot be null for query INSERT INTO `ckhome_wpb2d_processed_files` (`file`, `uploadid`, `offset`) VALUES (‘/home/countryk/public_html/wp/wp-admin/network/update.php’, NULL, NULL) made by do_action_ref_array, call_user_func_array, run_dropbox_backup, WPB2D_BackupController->execute, WPB2D_BackupController->backup_path, WPB2D_Processed_Files->add_files, WPB2D_Processed_Base->upsert

WordPress.com user RichHelms posted a fix for this here that I’ve successfully implemented.  His fix was this:

This is driving me nuts so I decided to look deeper.

The issue is file wordpress-backup-to-dropbox/Classes/Processed/Files.php

Toward the bottom of the program change from

‘file’ => $file,
‘uploadid’ => null,
‘offset’ => null,


‘file’ => $file,
‘uploadid’ => null,
‘offset’ => 0,

so change the offset default from null to 0 and the issue goes away

It should not be a problem but it seems some versions of MySQL are not handling defaults right. Hopefully if this is the solution Michael will update and release as 4.4.2

Thanks, Rich.  That seems to have corrected the issue here as well.

What’s Wrong with the Lutheran Church

I visited my mother in Iowa Saturday and yesterday and went to church with her yesterday morning.  She is a long-time member of a large Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) congregation.  My sister, brother and I were all raised in that church.

Since leaving the Lutheran Church when I was saved years ago, I’ve come to expect much apostasy from it.  The Bible has always seemed optional there, in no small part I suspect to their having taken so many positions in opposition to what God teaches and commands in it.  But I was surprised with the preaching in the early service yesterday.

The senior pastor, a man I’d guess to be in his mid fifties, preached on transfiguration.  The text which was the starting point of his sermon was from Exodus.

Exodus 34:29-35  (KJV)
29: And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.
30: And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.
31: And Moses called unto them; and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned unto him: and Moses talked with them.
32: And afterward all the children of Israel came nigh: and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in mount Sinai.
33: And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.
34: But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
35: And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

He used a different translation, but that’s not critical.  During the sermon, this pastor talked about how Moses’ face shone after he came down from speaking with God on the mountain and how Moses would go back to talk with God whenever the shine wore off.  As if God were some sort of on-demand service for Moses – or maybe that Moses was using God for his own benefit – neither of which are described in the Bible.

Actually, I don’t recall the Bible ever describing Moses as going up on the mountain again to talk with God.  Maybe I’m mistaken there, but the people of Israel built the tabernacle right after this event and God spoke to Aaron and Moses from there.

That’s not the odd, sad sinful part of his message, though.

The pastor then compared Moses’ behavior in replenishing the shine on his face with a girl who goes on spring break in Florida taking one last opportunity to work on her suntan on the beach before returning home.

Let that sink in for a minute.

The number of ways this is wrong are many.  First, the pastor was prompting those listening to his message to think of a young woman in a bikini bathing suit laying on the beach.  He didn’t say bikini, but I rather doubt you sunbathe in any kind of modest swimsuit, if there even is such a thing.

Second, he was prompting those listening to his message to think about spring break and the kinds of activities that frequently go on there.

Third, the pastor was comparing the effects of being in the presence of the purity and holiness of God to being in the presence of sin.

Fourth, he was comparing a vain, selfish act that serves the wants and desires of that person with an act of obedience to God and service to God’s people.

And fifth, in making this comparison in a positive way, he was not only not condemning this type of behavior, he was in effect promoting it.  Moses did something that was of God and was good, so, by positive comparison, this other behavior must also be good.

Paul wrote this in Romans 14:13.

Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

Jesus himself said this in Matthew 18:6-7.

6: But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

7: Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!

As I mentioned, I’ve come to expect apostasy from the Lutheran church.  But deliberately putting stumblingblocks in the paths of people to whom you’re responsible seemed new to me.  Given many of the positions the ELCA has taken and preached to its members, maybe it shouldn’t have been.

Woe to the man by whom the offence cometh indeed.

2015 in Review by Dave Barry

Dave Barry, former column writer for the Miami Herald, noted author and owner of a very wry sense of humor, has written his annual year in review – cleverly enough for 2015 this year.  Go and read.  You’ll enjoy it, I’m sure.

Scripture About the Birth of Jesus

As you might imagine, there is a lot of scripture about the birth of Jesus Christ.  This scripture can be split into five sections.

  1. Prophecy about the coming birth of Jesus.
  2. Mary is told about the coming birth of Jesus.
  3. Joseph is told about the coming birth of Jesus and what he should do about it.
  4. The actual birth of Jesus.
  5. The angels praising God, telling the shepherds about what had happened, and the shepherds seeing for themselves and praising God.

Here is scripture from each of these sections.  I believe it is well worth reading this Christmas season.

1. Prophecy About the Coming Birth of Jesus

A. A son will be born of a virgin and named Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14
14: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

B. Jesus will be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:1-2
1: Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.
2: But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

C. Jesus will be born in the lineage of Judah.  (Shiloh in this verse is the Messiah.)

Genesis 49:10
10: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

D. Jesus will be a descendant of Jesse and will rule the earth through a

Isaiah 11:1-10
1: And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
2: And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;
3: And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
4: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.
5: And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.
6: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7: And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8: And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
9: They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
10: And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

E. Jesus will be a descendant of David.

Jeremiah 23:5
5: Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

2. Mary is Told About the Coming Birth of Jesus

Luke 1:26-38

26:  And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,
27:  To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name [was] Mary.
28:  And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, [thou that art] highly favoured, the Lord [is] with thee: blessed [art] thou among women.
29:  And when she saw [him], she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
30:  And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
31:  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
32:  He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
33:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
34:  Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
35:  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
36:  And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
37:  For with God nothing shall be impossible.
38:  And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

3. Joseph is Told About the Coming Birth of Jesus and What He Should Do About It

Matthew 1:18-25
18:  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
19:  Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man], and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.
20:  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21:  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22:  Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23:  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
24:  Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
25:  And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

4. The Actual Birth of Jesus

Luke 2:1-7, 21
1:  And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.
2:  ([And] this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3:  And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4:  And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5:  To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6:  And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7:  And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

21: And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

5. The Angels Praising God, Telling the Shepherds About What Had Happened, and the Shepherds Seeing for Themselves and Praising God

Luke 2:8-20
8:  And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9:  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10:  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11:  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12:  And this [shall be] a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13:  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14:  Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15:  And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16:  And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17:  And when they had seen [it], they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18:  And all they that heard [it] wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19:  But Mary kept all these things, and pondered [them] in her heart.
20:  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

The prophecy section was adapted from 100prophecies.org.  The other sections were adapted from A Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ, by A. T. Robertson.  The scripture itself is from the 1769 King James Version of the Holy Bible, also known as the Authorized Version.

Selecting a Webhost

Another part of the process of selecting a new webhost and moving my WordPress weblogs to it that I’d have loved more help with was the process of selecting the webhost.  My needs for a webhost aren’t huge.  I run three weblogs, all on WordPress, each with their own SQL database, all under one domain name.  My needs for hard disk space and bandwidth are low.  Customer service responsiveness was important to me, as that’s the reason I left my previous webhost.  (More on that below.)

The webhost needed to support the minimum requirements for running WordPress and my preference was for site management through cPanel, as I am familiar with it.  And I do this as a hobby so I didn’t want to tie up a bunch of money supporting it.

I learned that those are very manageable requirements.  There are a LOT of choices for webhosts and I had no clue how to go about picking a new one.

I started my search several weeks ago when I saw an article on PC Magazine entitled The Best Web Hosting Services for 2015.  That seemed like a good start.  I guess it was, but I learned a lot while searching that led me to question that article.

My typical search for information about a webhost was a Google search for hostname reviews.  That frequently led to sites who post reviews of webhosts, but earn referral bonuses from those sites when people sign up for their service through the “review”.  That seems less than objective to me, to say the least.  The other thing I noticed with searches was that pretty much noone who is reviewing a webhost identifies the website they have – or had – hosted there.  That leaves something to be desired too, I think.

A general trend with many webhosts that stood out to me, however, was a frequent and significant decline in customer service quality at some point in the last two years.  I may have learned why from this next article.

One post I found that was of some use was this.  It appears to have been written in 2013 and updated since then, most recently in September.  One of the most useful things from it was a large hosting site called Endurance International Group (EIG) that has apparently been on a buying spree, purchasing several webhost companies.  This article suggested that customer service quality degraded quite a bit at sites after they were purchased by EIG.  I did see a lot of comments on the review sites about how customer service got a lot worse and expect it was tied to that.

I don’t believe my webhost was purchased by EIG, but they were sold a couple of years ago by the individual with whom I had dealt.  I believe it was sold to another person as the original owner mentioned that in an email.  I reached out to him with some support issues before learning that he no longer owned the service.  Customer service dropped horribly.  I ended up sending a letter through the US Postal Service trying to get an issue resolved a few months back.

Ultimately, I landed on a webhost named TMDHosting.  I can’t recall how I first found them but they seemed to lack the breadth of customer service complaints that many of the other webhosts had.  I couldn’t find anyone who identified their website and said they either liked or disliked them, mind you.  The biggest complaint I found was from someone who had a billing challenge with them and its details weren’t anything that were close to mine, so I wasn’t all that concerned about it.

Last weekend, I sent an email to their sales service asking a few questions.  I got a response back in less than 30 minutes, which I thought was pretty good for a Sunday afternoon.  The response suggested I use their live chat feature for further discussion.  I did that and they were able to quickly answer all of the questions I had then.  Among my questions was whether they were part of a larger company or independently held.  The representative with whom I chatted said they were fully independent company that had been in business since 2007.

Yesterday, also a Sunday afternoon, I got back on chat with a few more questions.  They answered all except one and I was actually pleased with their reason for not answering that one.  I asked if they could share website names of a few current customers on the hosting plan I was considering to see how responsive their websites were and to ask the people running the site questions.  They wouldn’t share names due to privacy concerns.  I was okay with that.

One other thing in TMDHosting‘s favor was their cost.  I had found a link on c|net for a special deal for a package that met my needs with an introductory price of $1.99 per month.  The regular price was $5.85 per month, which is about what I’m paying now.  Pay no attention to the countdown clock on the page at that c|net link, by the way.  I’ve checked on the page for several weeks and have always found it to be close to expiring, but it never has.  Marketing, I guess.

I signed up yesterday.

The signup offer had three pricing tiers.  The $1.99 per month was good only for one year.  The price for a three year commitment was something like $2.85 per month and the price for a two year commitment a bit higher per month.  I picked the one year plan to see how they worked out.  They also have a 60-day money back guarantee.

I received an email with information on how to connect and get started a few seconds after completing the sign up process.  I’ve had no issues since.

They have a lot of tutorial videos and articles on their website, which have helped.  I have found some contradictory information in them – a video pointed to cPanel to change the overall site password but the link they showed didn’t exist in their cPanel, for example.  A knowledgebase article had the process correctly explained.  I plan to point out inconsistencies like that when I find them in hopes of making the information a bit more accurate for others.

So far – and keep in mind that I’m one day into using their service – I’m pleased.  I’m running my countrykeepers.com website and WordPress weblogs there and have had a good experience so far.

Disclosure: I do not receive anything from TMDHosting for this review.  I didn’t ask them if I could post it and was not asked by them to do so.  I don’t know whether c|net gets a referral fee from the link above.