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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sunspots 686


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




Computing: Gizmodo reports that internet filters are not effective in keeping children from viewing pornography.

Gizmodo also reports on privacy concerns for those of us who have smart TVs.

Health: Scientific American reports that the Environmental Protection Agency wants to drastically curtail the use of scientific and medical evidence it uses in producing or modifying regulations.

The New York Times reports that administrative costs related to health care are very high in the US, probably mostly because of the complexity of the health care "system."

Listverse discusses the bacteria in our guts.

Humor: (or something) Gizmodo reports, with photos, on a man who let the fingernails on his left hand grow for 66 years.

(or something) Scientific American discusses the fear and joy of riding a roller coaster.


Politics: Gizmodo reports on the newly appointed acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler.

To the surprise of many, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission has serious doubts about allowing Sinclair broadcasting to add more TV stations, according to Gizmodo.

Analysis of the falsehoods President Trump tells.

Science: Listverse tells us about 10 amazing extinct animals. Not Tyrannosaurus, or saber-tooths, but even more impressive beasts.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 36

Watson continues discussing reasons to be contented, or "contentation," as he puts it.

4th. excellency. Contentment is the spiritual arch, or pillar of the soul; it fits a man to bear burdens; he whose heart is ready to sink under the least sin, by virtue of this hath a spirit invincible under sufferings. A contented Christian is like the camomile, the more it is trodden upon the more it grows: as physic works disease out of the body, so doth contentment work trouble out of the heart. Thus it argues, “if I am under reproach, God can vindicate me; if I am in want, God can relieve me.” “Ye shall not see wind, neither shall you see rain, yet the valley shall be filled with water:” (2 Ki. 3. 17) thus holy contentment keeps the heart from fainting. In the autumn, when the fruit and leaves are blown off, still there is sap in the root: when there is an autumn upon our external felicity, the leaves of our estate drop off, still there is the sap of contentment in the heart: a Christian hath life inwardly, when his outward comforts do not blossom. The contented heart is never out of heart. Contentation is a golden shield, that doth beat back discouragements. Humility is like the lead to the net which keeps the soul down when it is rising through passion; and contentment is like the cork which keeps the heart up when it is sinking through discouragements. Contentment is the great under-prop; it is like the beam which bears whatever weight is laid upon it; nay, it is like a rock that breaks the waves. It is strange to observe the same affliction lying upon two men, how differently they carry themselves under it. The contented Christian is like Samson, that carried away the gates of the city upon his back; he can go away with his cross cheerfully, and makes nothing of it: the other is like Issachar, couching down under his burden: (Ge. 49. 14) the reason is, the one is discontent, and that breeds fainting. Discontent swells the grief, and grief breaks the heart. When this sacred sinew of contentment begins to shrink, we go limping under our afflictions; we know not what burdens God may exercise us with; let us therefore preserve contentment; as is our contentment, such will be our courage. David with his five stones and his sling defied Goliath, and overcame him. Get but contentment into the sling of your heart; and with this sacred stone you may both defy the world and conquer it; you may break those afflictions, which else would break you.
 
Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
  
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

Not conquering the Philistines


Joshua 13:1 Now Joshua was old and well advanced in years. Yahweh said to him, “You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to be possessed. 13:2a “This is the land that still remains: all the regions of the Philistines(World English Bible, public domain.)

From my daily Bible reading plan for today. 

I guess I'd seen this before, but don't remember it. Joshua and the Israelites were supposed to have conquered other nations, including the Philistines, but they didn't defeat them all. The Philistines were a nuisance to them for quite a while afterward -- think Goliath, as one example, and Delilah as another -- because they hadn't wiped them out, as they should have. Goliath was in the time of David and Saul. By this time, the Israelites had gone through several judges, and had been conquered more than once by other nations, until, each time, they repented of their idolatrous ways.

What have I not conquered, with God's help, that I should have, which is giving me problems?

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Sunspots 685


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


The Arts: (Or Philosophy, or something) David Brooks, of the New York Times, tells us that there has been a cultural contest between Athens and Jerusalem, or myths versus parables, for a long time. He describes the characteristics of each, and the virtues that they celebrate. One amazing statistic: three times as many people watched a video gaming event than watched the recent Super Bowl. I thank one of my brothers for pointing me to this article.

Christianity: Christianity Today reports on a study that indicates that people are more likely to change churches because of changes in doctrine in the church than because of pastoral change, or music change.

(and politics) A number of Christian leaders, including the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, an official of the Southern Baptist Convention, and a spokeswoman for The Wesleyan Church, and others, issued a statement on immigration on July 3. "America can be great only if we are good." And, being "good" includes treating immigrants in a Christ-like manner. 
Food: ListVerse tells us how 10 popular foods, including potato chips and ice cream cones, were invented by accident.

Health: Gizmodo suggests that we not use spray sunscreen.

Gizmodo also reports that a government study says most of us don't wash our hands properly.

Humor: (And Food) NPR reports on a mostly friendly Twitter war between the Departments of Agriculture of South Carolina and Georgia over which state grows the most, and best, peaches.


Politics: National Public Radio and many other sources report that Scott Pruitt has resigned as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency. His acting replacement is an energy lobbyist. Sigh. Pruitt did several questionable things, and seemed determined to tear down environmental protections. See also Gizmodo. FiveThirtyEight says that President Trump's cabinet has had more changes than any President's in 40 years. Scientific American reports on Andrew Wheeler, the acting head of the EPA, who must be approved by the Senate to take that office.

FiveThirtyEight analyzes the politics of abortion. Not all Republicans are anti-abortion, and not all Democrats are pro-abortion.

Science: NPR reports on how some farmers are creating places for bees, other than honeybees, to live. They pollinate alfalfa, an important food for cows. There are signs up, in certain areas of Washington State, requiring drivers to slow to 20 mph, so as not to kill bees crossing roads.

Sports: Steve Hartman, of CBS News, reports on a high school athlete who was put on the swimming team, even though he couldn't swim, and how the young man fared, and what he thinks of failure.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 35

Watson continues discussing reasons to be contented, or "contentation," as he puts it.

3rd. excellency. Contentment makes a man in tune to serve God; it oils the wheels of the soul and makes it more agile and nimble; it composeth the heart, and makes it fit for prayer, meditation, &c. How can he that is in a passion of grief, or discontent, “attend upon the Lord without distraction?” Contentment doth prepare and tune the heart. First you prepare the viol, and wind up the strings, ere you play a fit of music: when a Christian’s heart is wound up to this heavenly frame of contentment, then it is fit for duty. A discontented Christian is like Saul, when the evil spirit came upon him: O what jarrings and discords doth he make in prayer! When an army is put into a disorder, then it is not fit for battle; when the thoughts are scattered and distracted about the cares of this life, a man is not fit for devotion. Discontent takes the heart wholly of from God, and fixeth it upon the present trouble, so that a man’s mind is not upon his prayer, but upon his cross. Discontent doth disjoint the soul; and it is impossible now that a Christian should go so steadily and cheerfully in God’s service. O how lame is his devotion! The discontented person gives God but a half-duty, and his religion is nothing but bodily exercise, it wants a soul to animate it. David would not offer that to God that cost him nothing.” (2 Sa. 24. 24) Where there is too much worldly care, there is too little spiritual cost in a duty. The discontented person doth his duties by halves; he is just like Ephraim, ” a cake not turned;” (Ho. 7. 8) he is a cake baked on one side; he gives God the outside but not the spiritual part; his heart is not in duty; he is baked on one side, but the other side dough; and what profit is there of such raw indigested services? He that gives God only the skin of worship, what can he expect more than the shell of comfort? Contentation brings the heart into frame, and then only do we give God the flower and spirits of a duty, when the soul is composed. Now a Christian’s heart is intent and serious. There are some duties which we cannot perform as we ought without contentment: as, 
(1.) to rejoice in God. How can he rejoice that is discontented? he is fitter for repining, than rejoicing.

(2.) To be thankful for mercy. Can a discontented person be thankful? he can be fretful, not thankful.

(3.) To justify God in his proceedings. How can he do this who is discontented with his condition? he will sooner censure God’s wisdom, than clear his justice. O then, how excellent is contentation, which doth prepare, and as it were, string the heart for duty? Indeed contentment doth not only make our duties light and agile, but acceptable. It is this that puts beauty and worth into them; for contentation settles the soul.
Now, as it is with milk, when it is always stirring, you can make nothing of it, but let it settle a while, and then it turns to cream: when the heart is overmuch stirred with disquiet and discontent, you can make nothing of those duties. How thin, how fleeting and jejune are they! but when the heart is once settled by holy contentment, now there is some worth in our duties, now they turn to cream.


Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
  
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)

Friday, July 06, 2018

Outrageous: Deporting veterans and refusing service in restaurants

According the the Associated Press and National Public Radio, immigrants who served in the US military, and were promised a path to US citizenship, have been discharged, and deported. That's outrageous! Snopes has checked this, and finds it true.

So is refusing to serve people in restaurants, just because their politics isn't compatible with the restaurant staff, whether the person in question is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, or, for example, Rev. Al Sharpton. If someone comes in and insults the staff, or does not comply with a dress code prominently posted next to the entrance, has a history of not paying, or, without provocation, makes loud statements, displays, or noises that annoy other customers, OK. Ask them to leave. But not just because they work for the President, whoever he or she might be, or have different political views than the management. That's outrageous!

The Golden Rule tells us to do to others as we would want them to do to us, and says nothing about them belonging to our intellectual tribe, whatever tribe that may be.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Sunspots 684

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


Christianity: Benjamin L. Corey compares "Trumpianity" with Christianity.

Relevant reports that Billy Graham had no problem with evolution.


Health: New Scientist reports on a study that says that people who see the same doctor over and over live longer.

Politics: Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt, who has been accused of numerous ethics violations, and seems bent on turning the agency into something that does not protect the environment, asked fuel company executives, and lobbyist, to recommend people for positions in the EPA, according to Gizmodo.

(Sort of) Gizmodo also reports on continuing "sonic attacks," or some kind of attack, on US embassies in other countries.

FiveThirtyEight discusses the small number of elected Republican women.

Science: New Scientist reports that men are more likely to be referred to by their surnames (Trump, for example) and women by their first names (Hillary, for example) and that this gives men advantages in many ways.

Scientific American reports that Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, has some complex organic molecules, and may have living things.

Gizmodo reports on the intelligence of crows.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 34

Watson continues discussing reasons to be contented, or "contentation," as he puts it.

2nd. excellency. Whatever is defective in the creature is made up in contentment. A Christian may want the comforts that others have, the land, and possessions; but God hath instilled into his heart that contentment which is far better: in this sense that is true of our Saviour, “he shall receive a hundred fold.” (Mat. 19. 29) Perhaps he that ventured all for Christ, never hath his house or land again: aye, but God gives him a contented spirit, and this breeds such joy in the soul, as is infinitely sweeter than all his houses and lands which he left for Christ. It was sad with David in regard of his outward comforts, he being driven as some think from his kingdom; yet in regard of that sweet contentment he found in God, he had more comfort than men use to have in the time of harvest and vintage. (Ps. 4. 7) One man hath house and lands to live upon, another hath nothing, only a small trade; yet even that brings in a livelihood. A Christian may have little in the world, but he drives the trade of contentment; and so he knows as well how to want, as to abound. O the rare art, or rather miracle of contentment! Wicked men are often disquieted in the enjoyment of all things; the contented Christian is well in the want of all things. But how comes a Christian to be contented in the deficiency of outward comforts? A Christian finds contentment distilled out of the breasts of the promises. He is poor in purse, but rich in promise. There is one promise that brings much sweet contentment into the soul: “they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” (Ps. 34. 10) If the thing we desire be good for us, we shall have it; if it be not good, then the not having is good for us. The resting satisfied with the promise gives contentment.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
  
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sunspots 683


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



Christianity: A Christianity Today editorial on immigration.

Christianity Today also reports that multi-ethnic Protestant congregations are becoming more common, especially among evangelicals.


Computing: Gizmodo discusses the frequent failure of governments web sites, and the causes.

Health: (or something) FiveThirtyEight points out that using a phone hands-free while driving can also be dangerous. And so can the car's complicated controls.

Earther reports that, until now, most plastic waste that's recycled goes to China for such treatment. However, the Chinese are clamping down on importing plastic.

National Public Radio reports that an analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that, US county by county, there is a strong correlation between opioid over use and voting for President Trump in 2016. This does not prove cause. Both phenomena may have been caused by something else, such as the local economy.

An article on the use of superlatives in reports of cancer research. Claiming too much happens a lot.

Politics: Sojourners discusses an analysis of word use in Vice-President Mike Pence's recent speech to the Southern Baptist Convention. He used "President" 61 times, "Trump" 12 times, but "God" 9 times and "Christ" twice. Some Southern Baptists, including leaders, were not happy with his speech.

The Washington Post tells us where President Trump got his figure of 63,000 people killed by illegal immigrants. Someone basically made it up.

Science: ListVerse tells us 10 interesting things about salt.

Gizmodo reports on the real cause of the "drip, drip, drip" sound made by a leaky faucet, and on how to stop that sound quickly and easily.

National Public Radio discusses the advantages of increasing the beaver population of the Western US.

Sports: The Associated Press says that pitchers are throwing fewer fast balls, and why.
Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 33

Watson continues discussing reasons to be contented, or "contentation," as he puts it.

1st. excellency. A contented Christian carries heaven about him: for, what is heaven, but that sweet repose and full contentment that the soul shall have in God? In contentment there are the first fruits of heaven. There are two things in a contented spirit, which make it like heaven.
(1.) God is there; something of God is to be seen in that heart. A discontented Christian is like a rough tempestuous sea; when the water is rough you can see nothing there; but when it is smooth and serene, then you may behold your face in the water. (Pr. 27. 19) When the heart rageth through discontent, it is like a rough sea, you can see nothing there, unless passion and murmuring; there is nothing of God, nothing of heaven in that heart: but by virtue of contentment, it is like the sea when it is smooth and calm, there is a face shining there; you may see something of Christ in that heart, a representation of all the graces.
(2.) Rest is there. O what a Sabbath is kept in a contented heart! What an heaven! A contented Christian like Noah in the ark; though the ark were tossed with waves, Noah could sit and sing in the ark. The soul that is gotten into the ark of contentment, sits quiet, and sails above all the waves of trouble; he can sing in this spiritual ark; the wheels of the chariot move, but the axle-tree stirs not; the circumference of the heavens is carried about the earth, but the earth moves not out of its centre. When we meet with motion and change in the creatures round about us, a contented spirit is not stirred nor moved out of its centre. The sails of a mill move with the wind, but the mill itself stands still, an emblem of contentment; when our outward estate moves with the wind of providence, yet the heart is settled through holy contentment; and when others are like quicksilver, shaking and trembling through disquiet, the contented spirit can say, as David, “O God my heart is fixed:” (Ps. 57.7) what is this but a piece of heaven?

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
  
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)  

Friday, June 22, 2018

Not turning in an escaped slave? Deuteronomy 23:15-16

Deuteronomy 23:15 You shall not deliver to his master a servant who is escaped from his master to you: 16 he shall dwell with you, in the midst of you, in the place which he shall choose within one of your gates, where it pleases him best: you shall not oppress him. (World English Bible, public domain.)

I was just using my read-the-Bible-through-in-a-year plan, and came across these two verses. I don't recall ever paying attention to them before, but the Bible is like that (or we are). This seems to be saying that an escaped slave, or servant, should not be returned to their master, but should be protected. All the English Bible translations, in the Blue Letter Bible, agreed with this. However, Jamieson's commentary on this passage indicates that it is speaking of Canaanite, not Israeli, slaves. Matthew Henry says that this is talking about slaves from foreign lands. Perhaps. But it's interesting, in any case. The passage doesn't seem to give any support for hunting escaped slaves with dogs and whips.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sunspots 682


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



Christianity: (and politics) The Gospel Coalition, and many others, don't think that Vice-President Pence should have spoken to the Southern Baptist Convention, at least not so politically. See also here. (The SBC strongly adopted a resolution sympathizing with immigrants.)

Relevant discusses giving cash to the homeless.

A Relevant writer discusses four commonly used Bible verses that are usually misinterpreted. These include "I can do all things . . ." (Philippians 4:13) and "I know the plans I have for you ..." (Jeremiah 29:11)


Education: Grammarphobia discusses "hogwash" and "claptrap."

Politics: (sort of) Gizmodo reports on a Florida lawsuit. If someone takes a discarded drink bottle and finds your DNA on it, have they invaded your privacy? Stolen from you?

Gizmodo also reports that the Federal Communications Commission is planning to relax its rules, so that Sinclair broadcasting can purchase even more local TV stations, and, presumably, use their news programs for advancing Sinclair's political views.

FiveThirtyEight tells us about the underlying goal of the Trump Administration's actions, or attempted actions, on immigration.

Immigrant camps near the Mexican border have made the Wikipedia's list of Concentration Camps.


Science: Antarctica is losing ice, and at an accelerating rate, says Earther.

Scientific American tells us a lot about orchid seeds, and orchid reproduction, with photos.

UnDark discusses the emotional strain of smiling for customers.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Monday, June 18, 2018

God uses seemingly random events

Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap,
    but its every decision is from Yahweh.

(World English Bible, public domain)

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 32

Watson' section on not being contented is finished. He now address being contented:

CHAPTER XI
Divine Motives to Contentment.
SECT. 1. The first argument to contentation.
1. Consider the excellency of it. Contentment is a flower that doth not grow in every garden; it teacheth a man how in the midst of want to abound. You would think it were excellent if I could prescribe a receipt or antidote against poverty: but behold here is that which is more excellent, for a man to want, and yet have enough, this alone contentment of spirit doth bring. Contentation is a remedy against all our trouble, an alleviation to all our burdens, it is the cure of care. Contentation, though it be not properly a grace (it is rather a disposition of mind,) yet in it there is a happy temperature and mixture of all the graces: it is a most precious compound, which is made up of faith, patience, meekness, humility, &c. which are the ingredients put into it. Now there are in species these seven rare excellencies in contentment.


Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post excerpts from his The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11, over a number of weeks, on Sundays.

My source for the text is here, and I thank the Christian Classics Ethereal Library for making this text (and many others) available. The previous excerpt is here.
  
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak because of lack, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content in it. (World English Bible, public domain.)