License

I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it. If you give me credit, thanks. If not, OK.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 93

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 18. Be much in prayer. The last rule for contentment is, be much in prayer. Beg of God, that he will work our hearts to this blessed frame. “Is any man afflicted? let him pray;” (Ja. 5. 14) so, is any man discontented? let him pray. Prayer gives vent: the opening of a vein lets out bad blood; when the heart is filled with sorrow and disquiet, prayer lets out the bad blood. The key of a prayer oiled with tears, unlocks the heart of all its discontents. Prayer is an holy spell, or charm, to drive away trouble; prayer is the unbosoming of the soul, the unloading of all our cares in God’s breast; and this ushers in sweet contentment. When there is any burden upon our spirits, by opening our mind to a friend we find our hearts finely eased and quieted. It is not our strong resolutions, but our strong request to God, which must give the heart ease in trouble; by prayer the strength of Christ comes into the soul, and where that is, a man is able to go through any condition. Paul could be in every state content; but that you may not think he was able to do this himself, he tells you that though he could want and abound, and “do all things;” yet it was through Christ strengthening him. (Ph. 4.13) It is the child that writes, but it is the scrivener that guides his hand.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted excerpts from hisThe 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.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Sunspots 745

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


Christianity: Relevant takes on the Prosperity Gospel.


Finance: Catherine Rampell discusses the effects of the Trump administration rolling back regulations, and the President's remarks about businesses that are hurt by his tariffs really suffering from bad management.

Politics: FiveThirtyEight has studied crowd size at political events, and found that polls are a better predictor than crowd size.

NPR reports that the Department of Education has been making it almost impossible for teachers to get the loan forgiveness they were promised, if they went into teaching.

NPR analyzes the likely results of the Electoral College in the 2020 presidential election.

Catherine Rampell tells us that the Trump administration has been, and is, waging a war on children, and gives us details.

Gizmodo reports on yet another survey that indicates that all Americans, including gun owners, are in favor of stricter background checks, red flag laws, and the like.

Science: Ars Technica reports that a company that genetically engineered a bull so that he wouldn't have horns also, unwittingly, placed some bacterial and plasmid genes in the bull. Thanks to one of my brothers for the information on this.

Gizmodo reports on research about what causes someone to be left-handed.

The Scientist reports on research into how bar-headed geese can fly over Everest, in spite of the low oxygen at such a high altitude.

Sports: FiveThirtyEight thinks that the NFL pre-season should be eliminated, or seriously changed.

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

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 92

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 17. Meditate much on the glory which shall be revealed. There are great things laid up in heaven. Though it be sad for the present yet let us be content in that it shortly will be better; it is but a while and we shall be with Christ, bathing ourselves in the fountain of love; we shall never complain of wants and injuries any more; our cross may be heavy, but one sight of Christ will make us forget all our former sorrows. There are two things that should give contentment.
1. That God will make us able to bear our troubles. (1 Cor. 10. 13) God, saith Chrysostom, doth like a lutanist, who will not let the strings of his lute be too slack lest it spoil the music of prayer and repentance? nor yet too much adversity, “lest the spirit fail before me; and the souls that I have made.” (Is. 57. 16)
2. When we have suffered a while, we shall be perfected in glory; the cross shall be our ladder by which we shall climb up to heaven. Be then content, and then the scene will alter; God will ere long turn out water into wine; the hope of this is enough to drive away all distempers from the heart. Blessed be God, it will be better: “we have no continuing city here,” therefore our afflictions cannot continue. A wise man looks still to the end; “The end of the just man is peace.” (Ps. 37. 37) Methinks the smoothness of the end should make amends for the ruggedness of the way. O eternity, eternity! Think often of the kingdom prepared. David was advanced from the field to the throne: first he held his shepherd’s staff, and shortly after the royal sceptre. God’s people may be put to hard services here: but God hath chosen them to be kings, to sit upon the throne with the Lord Jesus. This being weighed in the balance of faith, would be an excellent means to bring the heart to contentment.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted excerpts from hisThe 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.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Sunspots 744


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



Christianity: Michael Gerson says that white evangelicalism is dying rapidly, and its leaders don't seem aware of this, or to care. Most of the offspring of older white evangelicals don't consider themselves evangelical, or even religious.

Education: Grammarphobia discusses usage of "mens," and "men's," and related matters.

Food: Listverse has an article on things you probably didn't know about chocolate.

Health: (or something) Listverse tells us how to be more attractive.

NPR examines the effect of high summer heat on people's health, and finds that the poor, in large cities, are exposed to more heat than those of us who are better off.

Humor: Relevant on the importance of having fun.


Politics: NPR has outlined the Trump administration's many actions, and attempted actions, on immigration. The goal is clear - keep people out, or send them back, as often as possible.

Science: Listverse shows us 10 cases of animal mimicry.

Sports: NPR reports on a 103-year-old female athlete from India.

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

Sunday, September 01, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 91

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 16. Do not too much indulge the flesh. We have taken an oath in baptism to forsake the flesh. The flesh is a worse enemy than the devil, it is a bosom-traitor; an enemy within is worst. If there were no devil to tempt, the flesh would be another Eve, to tempt to the forbidden fruit. O take heed of giving way to it! Whence is all our discontent but from the fleshy part? The flesh puts us upon the immoderate pursuit of the world; it consults for ease and plenty, and if it be not satisfied, then discontent begins to arise. O let it not have the reins! Martyr the flesh! In spiritual things the flesh is a sluggard, in secular things an horse-leech, crying “give, give.” The flesh is an enemy to suffering: it will sooner make a man a courtier, than a martyr. O keep it under! Put its neck under Christ’s yoke, stretch and nail it to his cross; never let a Christian look for contentment in his spirit, till there be confinement in his flesh.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted 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.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Sunspots 743


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

Christianity: A Relevant writer asks if Christians should participate in partisan politics.
(and Computing) A Christianity Today writer believes that reading the Bible digitally is not as good for us as reading a physical Bible.



Computing: (and Christianity) E. Stephen Burnett warns that reading a pirated e-book is stealing.

Education: Grammarphobia tells us how to punctuate a question, or a series of questions within a sentence. (Example: Do you think it will rain? snow? be windy? today? -- that example needs fixing.)

Finance: FiveThirtyEight says that economists are bad at predicting recessions.

History: NPR examines President Truman's attempt to purchase Greenland.

Politics: (And Christianity) A Relevant writer tries to explain recent tweets by President Trump, in which he probably didn't (but who knows) call himself the chosen king, and imply that he is related to the Second Coming, or something.

FiveThirtyEight finds that red flag laws might actually cut down on mass shootings.

Science: The Scientist reports that bacteria have been found, living over 2 kilometers below the surface.

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

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 90

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 15. Believe the present condition is best for us. Flesh and blood is not a competent judge. Surfeiting stomachs are for banquetting stuff, but a man that regards his health, is rather for solid food. Vain men fancy such a condition best and would flourish in their bravery; whereas a wise Christian hath his will melted into God’s will, and thinks it best to be at his finding. God is wise, he knows whether we need food or physic [medicine]; and if we could acquiesce in providence, the quarrel would soon be at an end. O what a strange creature would man be, if he were what he could wish himself! Be content to be at God’s allowance; God knows which is the fittest pasture to put his sheep in; sometimes a more barren ground doth well, whereas rank pasture may rot. Do I meet with such a cross? God shows me what the world is; he hath no better way to wean me, than by putting me to a step-mother. Doth God stint me in my allowance? he is now dieting me. Do I meet with losses? it is, that God may keep me from being lost. Every cross wind shall at last blow me to the right port. Did we believe that condition best which God doth parcel out to us, we should cheerfully submit, and say, “the lines are fallen in pleasant places.”

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted 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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Sunspots 742


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


Christianity: Christianity Today reports that Bibles which are mostly printed in China and exported to the US, will not be subject to tariffs.
Relevant points out four Bible verses that are too often used out of context.
He Lives on why it makes no sense to bear arms in church to protect against gun violence there.



Computing: National Public Radio reports that lots of people, especially teens, are addicted to the Internet in South Korea, and what the government is doiong about it.

Education: Listverse explains why 10 common objects have the shape that they do. (Why airplane windows are rounded, for example.)

Environment: (and Christianity) Christianity Today considers the matter of whether Christian businesspeople should be concerned about the environment.


Food: NPR discusses the pros and cons of grass-fed versus feed lot fed beef.

NPR reports that our banana supply is at risk.

Politics: Michael Gerson doesn't like many of the words used in the President's discourse, but thinks objecting to his language, but ignoring his attacks on human dignity, is hypocritical and short-sighted.

NPR discusses the remarkable power of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell.

Internet watchdog Snopes has discussed a study on how people believe in the truth of satire.

Science: Gizmodo reports that a young woman had a "twin" growing inside her body.

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

Monday, August 19, 2019

Evidence for a relationship between apes and humans

Young earth creationists sometimes say that it is impossible for humans and the great apes to be descended from a common ancestor, because their genes are more different than you would expect, if that were the case.

I recently read a post, by R. Joel Duff, that has been up for a few years, but is still relevant and interesting. It examines the evidence on the point above, based on mitochondrial DNA. All animals have mitochondria, which are necessary for a cell to obtain energy from food molecules. Mitochondria have only a dozen or so genes, so it is much easier to get a DNA sequence from, say, fox mitochondrial DNA, than from the entire fox genome. Also, mitochondria are passed from one generation to another in the egg cell, with no recombination with male-derived DNA, so there is little change from generation to generation,

Duff examined available data on mitochondrial differences between various animals, including humans. His findings included the following:

Humans vs. Chimpanzees: out of 16569/16569 base pairs, 91.2% were the same.
Red Fox vs. Wolf: out of 13785 fox/16054 wolf base pairs, 86% were the same.
Domestic cat vs. leopard: out of 14352 cat/16206 leopard base pairs, 89% were the same.

For further discussion, more comparisons, and indications of methods, see Duff's post.

Young-earth creationists mostly claim that, following the Ark's landing, less than 5,000 years ago, less than 200 kinds (baramins) of animals were released, and these animals rapidly evolved so as to produce several, perhaps even many, species each. These animals, they say, mostly did not look like the animals of today, or the animals shown in story books about creation, or the Ark. For example, there were a pair, or perhaps seven pairs, of ancestors of all dog/wolf/fox-like animals, which evolved into coyotes, wolves, foxes, wild dogs, dingoes, and more types of present animals, and there were ancestors of all catlike organisms, which evolved into lions, tigers, panthers, ocelots, and more creatures. The "more" is said, by most Young-earth creationists, to include extinct creatures, such as saber-tooth tigers. Answers in Genesis, the most prominent Young-earth creationist organization, says this: "In addition to all the big cats that filled the earth after the Flood and then went extinct (such as the saber-toothed cat), forty species of cats survive."

There is, so far as I know, no scientific, or historical, evidence to support such claims, and what evidence exists from ancient art also does not support them. As far as we can tell, lions, and most other animals, have changed little over the past several thousands of years.

Duff's post is one of many that point out scientific evidence against the current Young-earth creationist paradigm.
 
Duff's conclusion is that, although mitochondrial DNA does not tell the whole story, comparing mitochondrial DNA indicates that the claim, that humans and the great apes are too different to be in the same kind/baramin, does not hold up. The proposed canine and feline kinds/baramins have more differences among them than humans and chimpanzees do between them. Duff also, wisely, says this: "I make no claim that the data I present are convincing evidence of common ancestry or of the lack of common ancestry."

Thanks for reading. Read Duff's post -- in fact, if you can, subscribe to his blog.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 89

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 14. Consider how little will suffice nature. The body is but a small continent, and is easily recruited. Christ hath taught us to pray for our daily bread; nature is content with a little. Not to thirst, not to starve, is enough, saith Gregory Nazianzen; meat and drink are a Christian’s riches, saith St Hierom; and the apostle saith, “having food and raiment let us be content.” The stomach is sooner filled than the eye; how quickly would a man be content, if he would study rather to satisfy his hunger than his humour. 

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted 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.
   

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Sunspots 741

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

Health: Listverse tells us 10 interesting things about sweat.

Grammarphobia discusses the naming of Viagra and a number of other drugs.

History: NPR discusses the awful history of the idea of white supremacy, which idea has been, and is, all too popular, for decades.

Humor: (or something) Gizmodo reports on toilet explosions.


Politics: Relevant points out that video game playing doesn't seem to be responsible for mass shootings.

Relevant reports that Chaldean Christians have been sent back to Iraq, where some of them had never been before, with predictable awful consequences.

Relevant takes the Lt. Governor of Texas to task for tying the shooting in El Paso to removal of prayer from the public schools. Franklin Graham apparently agreed with the Lt. Governor.

Catherine Rampell discusses the meaning of "drain the swamp" under the Trump administration. It doesn't mean what most of us thought it did.

Rampell also writes about how President Trump treats former aides/lawyers/whatever who are less than completely adulatory about the President. Not very well.

Michael Gerson on conspiracy theories, and President Trump.
 
Science: The Scientist tells us that space exploration by Israel, and the US, may have left living organisms on the moon.

The Scientist also reports that lots of bacteria in the ocean capture light energy by using a pigment different from chlorophyll.

. . . and The Scientist, and many other outlets, report on the serious weakening, perhaps even nullification, of the Endangered Species Act

NPR reports on the discovery of a very large fossil parrot.

Sports: Simone Biles shows us amazing excellence in gymnastics.

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

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 88

Watson, near the close of his book, sets forth some rules for being contented:

Rule 13. Get fancy regulated. It is the fancy which raiseth the price of things above their real worth. What is the reason one tulip is worth five pounds, another perhaps not worth one shilling? Fancy raiseth the price; the difference is rather imaginary than real; so, why it should be better to have thousands than hundreds, is, because men fancy it so; if we could fancy a lower condition better, as having less care in it, and less account, it would be far more eligible. The water that springs out of the rock, drinks as sweet as if it came out a golden chalice; things are as we fancy them. Ever since the fall, the fancy is distempered; God saw that the imagination of the thoughts of his heart were evil. (Ge. 6. 5) Fancy looks through wrong spectacles; pray that God will sanctify your fancy; a lower condition would content, if the mind and fancy were set right. Diogenes preferred his cynical life before Alexander’s royalty: he fancied his little cloister best. Fabricius a poor man, yet despised the gold of king Pyrrhus. Could we cure a distempered fancy, we might soon conquer a discontented heart.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, thank God, has posted 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.
   

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Justice Antonin Scalia - limiting gun rights does not necessarily violate the Constitution


Excerpt from Antonin Scalia’s majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller, decided by the US Supreme Court, June 26, 2008

2. Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. 


Thanks for reading.