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Thursday, May 24, 2018

An exhortation to worship together

None of the New Testament books were written to Joe Smith, who worships God in nature, or to Jane Jones, who likes to rest in bed on Sunday morning, or to Jim Johnson, who works on Sunday morning, but not when mid-week service or a small group meets, but doesn’t attend these. Most of the New Testament books were written to churches – groups of people who worshipped together, or to pastors, who led such groups. Christians are expected to worship together.

(I know -- some believers are in circumstances where doing so would be impossible, or dangerous. But most of us aren't in such circumstances.)

For more on this, see https://sunandshield.blogspot.com/2016/03/why-should-we-worship-together.html

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Sunspots 678


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



Christianity: A Relevant writer reminds us that contemporary worship style churches aren't the only viable options.

Christianity Today
reports that former President Jimmy Carter spoke at the Liberty University commencement.

A Southern Baptist woman says that Jerry Falwell and Robert Jeffress stood up for her against abuse by her husband.

Politics: Benjamin L. Corey is not at all happy with President Trump referring to some immigrants as animals, not people, and Corey says this attacks the foundation of Christianity.

Science: Gizmodo reports that a study has found that chimpanzee beds are much less likely to contain germs or parasites than human beds do.

(or not) Gizmodo also reports that Mo Brooks, a congressman from Alabama, believes that erosion, and rocks falling into the ocean, are responsible for rising sea levels.

FiveThirtyEight discusses the relative intelligence of various kinds of animals. It's not sensible to rank animals by intelligence.

ListVerse tells us more than we knew about the Periodic Table of the elements.

ListVerse also reports on "10 body parts that are secretly awesome."

A BioLogos author tells us ways in which humans are unique.


Image source (public domain)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 28

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:

Branch 2. The second branch of the apology that discontent makes, is the impiety of the times; I live and converse among the profane: “O that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest.” (Ps. 55. 6)

It is indeed sad, to be mixed with the wicked. David beheld “transgressors and was grieved:” and Lot (who was a bright star in a dark night) was vexed, or, as the word in the original may bear, wearied out with the unclean conversation of the wicked; he made the sins of Sodom spears to pierce his own soul. We ought, if there be any spark of divine love in us, to be very sensible of the sins of others, and to have our hearts bleed for them; yet let us not break forth into mourning and discontent, knowing that God in his providence hath permitted it, and surely not without some reasons; for, 1st. The Lord makes the wicked an hedge to defend the godly; the wise God often makes those who are wicked and peaceable, a means to safeguard his people from those who are wicked and cruel. The king of Babylon kept Jeremiah, and gave special order for his looking to, that he did want nothing. (Jer. 39. 11,12)

God sometimes makes brazen sinners to be brazen walls to defend his people.

2d. God doth but interline and mingle the wicked with the godly, that the godly may be a means to save the wicked; such is the beauty of holiness that it hath a magnetical force in it to allure and draw even the wicked. Sometimes God makes a believing husband a means to convert an unbelieving wife, and e contra: “what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? (1 Cor. 7. 16)

The godly living among the wicked, by their prudent advice and pious example, have won them to the embracing of religion; if there were not some godly among the wicked, how in a probable way, without a miracle, can we imagine that the wicked should be converted? those who are now shining saints in heaven, sometimes served diverse lusts. (Ti. 3. 3) Paul once a persecutor; Augustine once a manichee; Luther once a monk; but by the severe and holy carriage of the godly, were converted to the faith.

Thomas Watson lived from 1620-1686, in England. He wrote several books which survive. This blog, God willing, will post 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.
  
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, May 16, 2018

Sunspots 677

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


Christianity: Paige Patterson, President of a Southern Baptist seminary, has apologized for some of his past remarks which were less than encouraging to women, according to Christianity Today. (Last week's Sunspots had related links.)

Relevant
reports on the question of which year of a marriage is the most difficult.


Computing: (and history) Listverse tells us about 10 pre-1976 hackers, including, among others, Steve Jobs.
  Food: National Public Radio reports on a study that indicates that people from certain regions like dishes from those regions more, when they are reminded of the places first.

Humor: (or something) A truck carrying liquid chocolate spilled the stuff on a highway in Poland, says NPR. (There's a video.)


Politics: FiveThirtyEight discusses the possibility of a Presidential pardon for Michael Cohen.

FiveThirtyEight also discusses the end of Temporary Protection status for immigrants from several countries. About 300,000 people are going to lose this protection, and thousands of their children, who are US citizens, may also be forced to leave the US.

The US Interior Department is considering re-introducing grizzly bears in some parts of the West. Not everyone is happy about this.

Science: Gizmodo points out that our, er, butts, are unique among animals, and asks several experts to tell us why this is so.

Sports: Pau Gasol, National Basketball Association future hall of famer, on why the NBA should hire women head coaches. (As of this writing, Becky Hammon, assistant coach of the San Antonio Spurs, is under consideration for such a job. Gasol has been on her team for a few years.)

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 27

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:

The next apology that discontent makes for itself, is the evils of the times. The times are full of heresy and impiety, and this is that which troubles me. This apology consists of two branches, to which I shall answer in specie; and, 
Branch 1. The times are full of heresy. This is indeed sad; when the devil cannot by violence destroy the church, he endeavours to poison it, when he cannot with Samson’s foxtails set the corn on fire, then he sows tares; as he labours to destroy the peace of the church by vision, so the truth of it by error; we may cry out, we live in times wherein there is a sluice open to all novel opinions, and every man’s opinion is his Bible. Well; this may make us mourn, but let us not murmur through discontent: consider,
1. Error makes a discovery of men. Bad men; error discovers such as are tainted and corrupt. When the leprosy brake forth in the
forehead, then was the leper discovered. Error is a spiritual bastard; the devil is the father, and pride the mother; you never knew an erroneous man but he was a proud man. Now, it is good that such men should be laid open, to the intent, first, that God’s righteous judgment upon them may be adored; secondly, that others, who are free, be not infected. If a man have the plague, it is well it breaks forth; for my part, I would avoid an heretic, as I would avoid the devil, for he is sent on his errand. I appeal unto you; if there were a tavern in this city, where under a pretence of selling wine, many hogsheads of poison were to be sold, were it not well that others should know of it, that they might not buy? It is good that those
that have poisoned opinions should be known, that the people of God may not come near either the scent or the taste of that poison. Error is a touch-stone to discover good men: it tries the gold: “there must be heresies, that they which are approved, may be made manifest.” (1 Cor. 11. 19) Thus our love to Christ, and zeal for truth doth appear. God shows who are the living fish; such as swim against the stream: who are the sound sheep; such as feed in
the green pastures of the ordinances: who are the doves; such as live in the best air, where the spirit breathes: God sets a garland of honour upon these,
these are they which came out of great tribulation; (Re. 7. 14) so these are they that have opposed the errors of the times, these are they that have preserved the virginity of their conscience, who have kept their judgment sound and their heart soft. God will have a trophy of honour set upon some of his saints, they shall be renowned for their sincerity, being like the cypress, which keeps its greenness and freshness in the winter-season.

2. Be not sinfully discontented, for God can make the errors of the church advantageous to truth. Thus the truths of God have come
to be more beaten out and confirmed; as it is in the law, one may lay a false title to a piece of land, the true title hath by this means been the more searched into and ratified; some had never so studied to defend the truth by Scripture, if others had not endeavoured to overthrow it by sophistry; all the mists and fogs of error that have risen out of the bottomless pit, have made the glorious Sun of truth to shine so much the brighter. Had not Arius and Sabellius broached their damnable error, the truth of those questions about the blessed Trinity had never been so discussed and defended by Athanasius, Augustine, and others; had not the devil brought in so much of his princely darkness, the champions for truth had never run so fast to Scripture to light their lamps. So that God with a wheel within a wheel, over-rules these things wisely, and turns them to the best. Truth is a heavenly plant, that settles by shaking. 


3. God raiseth the price of his truth the more; the very shreds and filings of truth are venerable. When there is much counterfeit metal abroad, we prize the true gold the more; pure wine of truth is never more precious, than when unsound doctrines are broached
and vented.

4. Error makes us more thankful to God for the jewel of truth. When you see another infected with the plague, how thankful are you that God hath freed you from the infection? When we see others have the leprosy in the head, how thankful are we to God
that he hath not given us over to believe a lie and so be damned? It is a good use that may be made even of the error of the times when it makes us more humble and thankful, adoring the free grace of God, who hath kept us from drinking of that deadly poison.

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.)  

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Some of the things you and I probably ought to be thankful for



1) Salvation – Christ offers unmerited forgiveness for sin.
2) Guidance in the Christian life, from the Bible, other Christians, in groups, or one-on-one, and in various media. Guidance from the Holy Spirit. Chances to guide others, as God has led you.
3) The ability to think reasonably clearly, to learn new things, and to read and hear new information.
4) Living in a country where many things are available to us, which are not available to many others in the world, such as being able to speak, assemble, and worship freely. A political system, that, with all its faults, is better than that of most of the people in the world.
5) Your family, with all of its faults.
6) The ability to earn a living, or to retire in reasonable comfort, especially in comparison to most of the people in the world.
7) A good church, with good fellowship, opportunity to worship, serve, give and receive good teaching.
8) Good health. If we become disabled tomorrow, or already are, we’ve probably had many years of good health, more than some people ever have. Even if we’ve always been disabled, we’ve had health enough for some life.
9) Possessions which help keep us sheltered and safe, fed, clothed, and allow us to go places, and communicate with others, as necessary, or as desired, even at great distances.
10) Opportunity to minister through my church, and as I am able, in my own circumstances, outside the church.
11) Innocence, beauty, humor and fun, intimacy, holiness, and other good things that God invented.
12) A good and diverse world, well-planned, with energy, Oxygen, water, DNA, RNA, protein, the other elements and compounds we need to live, and beauty and variety of form, sound, color, taste, smell and action.

May God forgive me for not being thankful enough.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Sunspots 676


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



Christianity: Paige Patterson, President of a Southern Baptist seminary, is getting heat from some Southern Baptist women over remarks related to sexual roles. Michael Gerson weighs in on this story, and points out how women were highlighted in the New Testament, although it was written in a far more male-dominated society than ours is.

Health: Gizmodo reports on the removal of a 132-pound tumor from a woman.

(and politics) Gizmodo reports that President Trump has appointed Dr. Mehmet Oz to a health advisory council. Gizmodo is not happy with this, and tells why.

Humor: (or something) Speeded-up construction of a big Star Wars Lego object.


Politics: Last week, the chaplain of the US House was asked to resign, by Speaker Paul Ryan. The chaplain has been restored to office, says Relevant.

Science: Earther reports that the highest-ever recorded temperature in April occurred in Pakistan last month.

Gizmodo reports on the longest straight path on earth, without coming on to land, and the longest straight line path on land.

Gizmodo reports on research indicating that plants can communicate to other plants that they are too close together, or have been touched.

Scientific American discusses the decline of the ability to learn new languages as we get older.

New Scientist, and other outlets, discuss findings that indicate that tourism is a serious contributor to global climate change.

Sports: Becky Hammon is being considered for a head coaching job in the NBA. (She is not the only candidate -- the rest are male.)

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

What would spring be without irises?

Light yellow and bronze iris, with more behind it One of our small iris beds. The photo is a link to a Flickr post, and you can see other iris photos, linked within that post.

Thanks for looking! Isn't God a great artist?

Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 26

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:

The next apology is, I meet with very great sufferings for the truth.
Consider, 

1. Your sufferings are not so great as your sins: put these two in the balance, and see which weighs heaviest; where sin lies heavy, sufferings lie light. A carnal spirit makes more of his sufferings, and less of his sins; he looks upon one at the great end of the perspective, but upon the other at the little end of the perspective.The carnal heart cries out, takeaway the frogs: but a gracious heart cries out, “take away the iniquity.” (2 Sa. 24. 10) The one saith, never any one suffered as I have done; but the other saith, never one sinned as I have done. (Mi. 7. 7)
2. Are thou under sufferings: thou hast an opportunity to show the valour and constancy of thy mind. Some of God’s saints would have accounted it a great favour to have been honoured with martyrdom. One said, “I am in prison till I be in prison”. Thou countest that a trouble, which others would have worn as an ensign of their glory. 
3. Even those who have gone only upon moral principles, have shown much constancy and contentment in their sufferings. Curtius, being bravely mounted and in armour, threw himself into a great gulf, that the city of Rome might, according to the oracle, be delivered from the pestilence; and we, having a divine oracle, “that they who kill the body cannot hurt the soul,” shall we not with much constancy and patience devote ourselves to injuries for religion, and rather suffer for the truth than the truth suffer for us? The Decii among the Romans, vowed themselves to death, that their legions and soldiers might be crowned with the honour of the victory. O what should we be content to suffer, to make the truth victorious!
 

Regulus having sworn that he would return to Carthage, though he knew there was a furnace heating for him there, yet not daring to infringe his oath, he did adventure to go; we then who are Christians, having made a vow to Christ in baptism, and so often renewed in the blessed sacrament, should with much contentation rather choose to suffer, than violate our sacred oath. Thus the blessed martyrs, with what courage and cheerfulness did they yield up their souls to God? and when the fire was set to their bodies, yet their spirits were not at all fired with passion or discontent. Though others hurt the body, let them not the mind through discontent; show by your heroic courage, that you are above those troubles which you cannot be without.
 

The next apology is, the prosperity of the wicked. I confess it is so often, that the evil enjoy all the good, and the good endure all the evil, that David, though a good man, stumbled at this, and had like to have fallen. (Ps. 73. 2)
Well, be contented; for remember,

1. These are not the only things, nor the best things; they are mercies without the pale; these are but acorns with which God feeds swine; ye who are believers have more choice fruit, the olive, the pomegranate, the fruit which grows on the true vine Jesus Christ; others have the fat of the earth, you have the dew of heaven; they have a south-land, you have those springs of living water which are clarified with Christ’s blood, and indulcerated with his love.
2. To see the wicked flourish is matter rather of pity than envy; it is all the heaven they must have; “woe to you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation.” (Lu. 6. 24) Hence it was that David made it his solemn prayer, “deliver me from the wicked, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure. (Ps. 17. 15) The word (methinks) are David’s litany; from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, “good Lord, deliver me.” When the wicked have eaten of their dainty dishes, there comes in a sad reckoning which will spoil all. The world is first musical and then tragical; if you would have a man fry and blaze in hell, let him have enough of the fat of the earth. O remember, forever sand of mercy that runs out of the wicked, God puts a drop of wrath into his vial! Therefore as that soldier said to his fellow, “do you envy my grapes? they cost me dear, I must die for them;” so I say, do you envy the wicked? alas their prosperity is like Haman’s banquet before execution. If a man were to be hanged, would one envy to see him walk to the gallows through pleasant fields and fine galleries, or to see him go up the ladder in clothes of gold? The wicked may flourish in their bravery a while; but, when they flourish as the grass, “it is, that they shall be destroyed for ever; (Ps. 92. 7) the proud grass shall be mown down. Whatever a sinner enjoys, he hath a curse with it, (Mal. 2. 2) and shall we envy? What if poisoned bread be given the dogs? The long furrows in the backs of the godly have a seed of blessing in them, when the table of the wicked becomes a snare, and their honour their halter.

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, May 02, 2018

Sunspots 675


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



Christianity: Benjamin L. Corey gives some good advice about coming through life's trials with a softer, not harder, heart.

A Christianity Today writer tells us about true hospitality.

Relevant says that the record of the US on taking refugees is shameful and unChristian. (We've taken 11 refugees from Syria in 2017. No refugee, out of thousands previously admitted, has perpetrated a terrorist act in the US.)

Christianity Today reports on a Pew Research poll, examining what people mean when they say that they believe in God.

Politics: Mick Mulvaney, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has acted again to protect financial institutions from scrutiny, rather than protecting consumers from being ripped off. Sigh.

For the first time ever, the Chaplain of the US House of Representatives has been fired, according to NBC and other outlets.

Science: Gizmodo and Scientific American discuss the Environmental Protection Agency's declaration that burning wood is Carbon neutral.

New Scientist reports that the ability to grow human brain tissue in labs raises lots of ethical issues.

New Scientist also reports that horses can remember whether you smiled or frowned at them the last time they saw you.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 25

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:

The sixth apology that discontent makes is disrespect in the world. 

I have not that esteem from men as is suitable to my quality and grace.

And doth this trouble? Consider, 

1. The world is an unequal judge; as it is full of change so of partiality. The world gives her respects, as she doth her places of preferment; more by favour often, than desert. Hast thou the ground of real worth in thee; that is best worth that is in him that hath it; honour is in him that gives it; better deserve respect, and not have it, than have it and not deserve it.
2. Hast thou grace? God respects thee, and his judgment is best worth prizing. A believer is a person of honour, being born of God: since thou wast precious in mine eyes, “thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.” (Is. 43. 4) Let the world think what they will of you; perhaps in their eyes your are a cast-away, in God’s eyes, a dove, (Ca. 2. 14) a spouse, (Ca. 5. 1) a jewel. (Mal. 3. 17) Others account you the dregs of offscouring of the world, (1 Cor. 4. 14) but God will give whole kingdoms for your ransom. (Is. 43. 3) Let this content: no matter with what oblique eyes I am looked upon in the world, if God thinks well of me. It is better that God approve, than man applaud. The world may put us in their rubric and God put us in his black book. What is a man the better that his fellow-prisoners commend him, if his judge condemn him? O labour to keep in with God; prize his love! Let my fellow-subjects frown, I am contented, being a favourite of the king of heaven.
3. If you are a child of God, you must look for disrespect. A believer is in the world, but not of the world; we are here in a pilgrim condition, out of our own country, therefore must not look for the respects and acclamations of the world; it is sufficient that we shall have honour in our own country. (He. 13. 14) It is dangerous to be the world’s favourite.
4. Discontent arising from disrespect, savours too much of pride; an humble Christian hath a lower opinion of himself than others can have of him. He that is taken up about the thoughts of his sins, and how he hath provoked God, cries out, as Agur, “I am more brutish than any man,” (Pr. 30. 2) and therefore is contented, though he be set among “the dogs of my flock.” (Job 30. 1) Though he be low in the thoughts of others, yet he is thankful that he is not laid in “the lowest hell.” (Ps. 86. 13) A proud man sets an high value upon himself; and is angry with others, because they will not come up to his price: take heed  of pride! O had others a window to look into their breast, as Crates once expressed it, or did thy heart stand where thy face doth, thou wouldst wonder to have so much respect.

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, April 25, 2018

Sunspots 674


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



Christianity: Relevant cites polls which show that most people in the US, who claim to be Christians, don't read the Bible.

Relevant talks to the head of the Evangelical Environment Network, who has some suggestions as to how to get Christians to see that climate change is real, and is potentially disastrous.

History: FiveThirtyEight considers the questions: "who built the first house?" "what is a house?"

Humor: (not exactly) National Public Radio reports that tumbleweeds have piled up as high as 7 feet in Victorville, California, and it has been difficult to remove them.

Relevant reports that someone decided to make a playable record (the kind that goes round and round) out of breakfast cereal.


Politics: Many former intelligence officers, including those with the highest rank, have petitioned the US Supreme Court to strike down the Trump travel ban, on the grounds that it decreases national security, according to NPR.

Science: Gizmodo reports on a newly-discovered enzyme that breaks down some plastics.

NPR reports on studies that show that tiny ocean animals can cause significant movement of ocean water, and the things that that water carries.

Scientific American (and other outlets) report on a study that indicates that prehistoric humans caused the extinction of many species of large mammals.

Gizmodo reports on ants that break open (and die) to attack invading insects with the goop that comes from their bodies.

And Gizmodo asks some experts "which animal kills the most humans?"

Sports: With the death of head coach Gregg Popovich's wife, and his absence, assistant coach Becky Hammon moved from behind the San Antonio Spurs bench to the front row thereof, and joined acting head coach Ettore Messina, and another assistant coach, in huddles during time-outs. I'm pretty sure that this is a first for women in men's professional sports in the US.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 24

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:

The next apology is, I am under great reproaches.

Let not this discontent: for,

1. It is a sign there is some good in thee; saith Socrates, what evil have I done, that this bad man commends me? The applause of the wicked usually denotes some evil, and their censure imports some good. (Ps. 38. 20) David wept and fasted, and that was turned to his “reproach”. (Pe. 4. 14) As we must pass to heaven through the spikes of suffering, so through the clouds of reproach. 
2. If your reproach be for God, as David’s was, “for thy sake I have born reproach; (Ps. 69. 7) then it is rather matter of triumph, than dejection. Christ doth not say, when you are reproached be discontented; but rejoice: (Mat. 5. 12) Wear your reproach as a diadem of honour, for now a spirit of “glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Pe. 4. 14) Put your reproaches into the inventory of your riches; so did Moses. (He. 11. 26) It should be a Christian’s ambition to wear his Saviour’s livery, though it be sprinkled with blood and sullied with disgrace.
3. God will do us good by reproach: as David of Shimei’s cursing; “it may be the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day. (2 Sa. 16. 12) This puts us upon searching our sin: a child of God labours to read his sin in every stone of reproach that is cast at him; besides, now we have an opportunity to exercise patience and humility.
4. Jesus Christ was content to be reproached by us; he despised the shame of the cross. (He. 12. 2) It may amaze us to think that he who was God could endure to be spit upon, to be crowned with thorns, in a kind of jeer; and when he was ready to bow his head upon the cross, to have the Jews in scorn, wag their heads and say, “he saved others, himself he cannot save.” The shame of the cross was as much as the blood of the cross; his name was crucified before his body. The sharp arrows of reproach that the world did shoot at Christ, went deeper into his heart than the spear; his suffering was so ignominious, that as if the sun did blush to behold, it withdrew its bright beams, and masked itself with a cloud; (and well it might when the Sun of Righteousness was in an eclipse;) all this contumely and reproach did the God of glory endure or rather despise for us. O then let us be content to have our names eclipsed for Christ; let not reproach lie at our heart, but let us bind it as a crown about our head! Alas, what is reproach? this is but small shot, how will men stand at the mouth of a cannon? These who are discontented at a reproach, will be offended at a faggot.
5. Is not many a man contented to suffer reproach for maintaining his lust? and shall not we for maintaining the truth? Some glory in that which is their shame, (Ph. 3. 19) and shall we be ashamed of that which is our glory? Be not troubled at these petty things. He whose heart is once divinely touched with the loadstone of God’s Spirit, doth account it his honour to be dishonoured for Christ, (Ac. 15. 4) and doth as much despise the world’s censure, as he doth their praise.
6. We live in an age wherein men dare reproach God himself. The divinity of the Son of God is blasphemously reproached by the Socinian; the blessed Bible is reproached by the Antiscripturist, as if it were but a legend of lies, and every man’s faith a fable; the justice of God is called to the bar of reason by the Arminians; the wisdom of God in his providential actings, is taxed by the Atheist; the ordinances of God are decried by the Familists, as being too heavy a burden for a free-born conscience, and too low and carnal for a sublime seraphic spirit; the ways of God, which have the majesty of holiness shining in them, are calumniated by the profane; the mouths of men are open against God, as if he were an hard master, and the path of religion too strict and severe. If men cannot give God a good word, shall we be discontented or troubled that they speak hardly of us?
Such as labour to bury the glory of religion, shall we wonder that “their throats are open sepulchres,” (Ro. 3. 13) to bury our good name? O let us be contented, while we are in God’s scouring-house, to have our names sullied a little; the blacker we seem to be here, the brighter shall we shine when God hath set us upon the celestial shelf.


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, April 18, 2018

Sunspots 673

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

The Arts: Christianity: Gizmodo reports that some Catholic priests are performing exorcisms over a phone connection.

Computing: Gizmodo reports that the European Union is proposing to give robots/artificial intelligences legal status as persons, much like corporations may have such legal status, but not be able to vote, and with other limitations. A number of AI experts, and other experts, don't think this is a good idea.

Finance: (or something) National Public Radio reports that those stickers and labels, saying "warranty void if removed," are illegal.

Health: New Scientist reports that people who stay up late are more likely to die.

(or something) FiveThirtyEight reports that suicides may be a bigger threat to police than various kinds of non-police angry people, but that no one is keeping track of police suicides, nationwide.
  
Humor: (and several other categories) National Public Radio remembers Carl Kasell, long-time newcaster with a splendid voice, and also part of its humor and news show, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, here and here.

Politics: Sojourners asks why many evangelicals still support Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, in spite of several ethically questionable actions.

More on Pruitt's questionable behaviors, which have been questioned by the EPA, itself.

We may be concerned, and should be, about the fate of Syrian civilians, but the US has accepted only 11 Syrian refugees this year, so far, according to NPR.

Relevant reports that Franklin Graham has questioned the Christianity of political progressives.

Thanks for looking!


Image source (public domain)