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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)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 23

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

The next apology that discontent makes is, but my friends have dealt very unkindly with me, and proved false.

It is sad, when a friend proves like a brook in summer. (Job 6. 15) The traveller being parched with heat, comes to the brook, hoping to refresh himself, but the brook is dried up, yet be content.


1. Thou art not alone, others of the saints have been betrayed by friends; and when they have leaned upon them, they have been as a foot out of joint. This was true in the type David; “it was not an enemy that reproached me, but it was thou, O man, mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance; we took sweet counsel together: (Ps. 55. 12, 13, 14) and in the antitype Christ; he was betrayed by a friend: and why should we think it strange to have the same measure dealt out to us as Jesus Christ had? “the servant is not above his master”. 


2. A Christian may often read his sin in his punishment: hath not he dealt treacherously with God? How oft hath he grieved the Comforter, broken his vows, and through unbelief sided with Satan against God? how oft abused love, taken the jewels of God’s mercies, and made a golden calf of them, serving his own lusts? how oft made the free grace of God, which would have been a bolt to keep out sin, rather a key to open the door to it? These wounds hath the Lord received in the house of his friends. Look upon the unkindness of thy friend, and mourn for thy own unkindness against God; shall a Christian condemn that in another, which he hath been too guilty of himself?
 

3. Hath thy friend proved treacherous? Perhaps you did repose too much confidence in him. If you lay more weight upon a house than the pillars will bear, it must needs break. God saith, “trust ye not in a friend:” (Mi. 7. 5) perhaps you did put more trust in him, than you did dare to put in God. Friends are as Venice-glasses, we may use them, but if we lean too hard upon them, they will break; behold matter of humility, but not of sullenness and discontent.

4. You have a friend in heaven who will never fail you; “there is a friend” — saith Solomon — “that sticketh closer than a brother:” (Pr. 18. 24) such a friend is God; he is very studious and inquisitive on our behalf; he hath a debating with himself, a consulting and projecting how he may do us good; he is the best friend which may give contentment in the midst of all discourtesies of friends. Consider, (1.) He is a loving friend. “God is love;” (1 Jno. 4. 16) hence he is said sometimes to engrave us on the “palm of his hand,” (Is. 49. 16) that we may never be out of his eye; and to carry us in his bosom, (Is. 40. 11) near to his heart. There is no stop or stint in his love; but as the river Nilus, it overflows all the banks; his love is as far beyond our thoughts, as it is above our deserts. O the infinite love of God, in giving the Son of his love to be made flesh, which was more than if all the angels had been made worms!
God in giving Christ to us gave his very heart to us: here is love penciled out in all its glory, and engraven as with the “point of a diamond.” All other love is hatred in comparison of the love of our Friend. (2.) He is a careful friend: “He careth for you”. (1 Pe. 5. 7) He minds and transacts our business as his own, he accounts his people’s interests and concernments as his interest. He provides for us, grace to enrich us, glory to ennoble us. It was David’s complaint, “no man careth for my soul:” (Ps. 142. 4) a Christian hath a friend that cares for him. (3.) He is a prudent friend. (Da. 2. 20) A friend may sometimes err through ignorance or mistake, and give his friend poison instead of sugar; but “God is wise in heart; (Job 9. 4) he is skilful as well as faithful; he knows what our disease is, and what physic is most proper to apply; he knows what will do us good, and what wind will be best to carry us to heaven.
(4.) He is a faithful friend. And he is faithful in his promises; “in hope of eternal life which God that cannot lie hath promised.” (Tit. 1. 2) God’s people are “children that will not lie;” (Is. 63. 8) but God is a God that cannot lie; he will not deceive the faith of his people; nay, he cannot: he is called “the Truth;” he can as well cease to be God as cease to be true. The Lord may sometimes change his promise, as when he converts a temporal promise into a spiritual; but he can never break his promise. (5.) He is a compassionate friend, hence in Scripture we read of the yearning of his bowels. (Jer. 31. 20) God’s friendship is nothing else but compassion; for there is naturally no affection in us to desire his friendship, nor no goodness in us to deserve it; the loadstone is in himself. When we were full of blood, he was full of bowels; when we were enemies, he sent an embassage of peace; when our hearts were turned back from God, his heart was turned towards us. O the tenderness and sympathy of our Friend in heaven! We ourselves have some relentings of heart to those which are in misery; but it is God who begets all the mercies and bowels that are in us, therefore he is called “the Father of mercies.” (2 Cor. 1. 3) (6.) He is a constant friend: “his compassions fail not.” (La. 3. 22) Friends do often in adversity drop off as leaves in autumn; these are rather flatterers than friends. Joab was for a time faithful to king David’s house; he went not after Absalom’s treason; but within a while proved false to the crown, and went after the treason of Adonijah. (1 Ki. 1. 7) God is a friend forever: “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (Jno. 13. 1) What though I am despised? yet God loves me. What though my friends cast me off? yet God loves me; he loves to the end, and there is no end of that love. This methinks, in case of discourtesies and unkindnesses, is enough to charm down discontent.


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 11, 2018

Sunspots 672

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


The Arts: There is a pulp magazine archive, of magazines published in the middle, more or less, of the last century, which may be accessed free of charge. Warning -- some of the covers are rather racy, and/or demeaning to women. There is a good search feature. I entered "Jack Vance," and was easily able to access his splendid The Dragon Masters, an award-winning story about what human nature is and isn't. Files can be accessed in several formats, including .PDF.

(and Science) Gizmodo on the discovery of pigments.

An atheist movie critic is positive about Paul, Apostle of Christ, which is currently in theaters.

Christianity: Gizmodo and other sources report that China has banned all on-line sales of Bibles.

Finance: On why US automakers might not be well served by relaxing fuel efficiency standards (as the Trump administration is in the process of doing).

Humor: Listverse tells us 10 interesting things about M&Ms.


Politics: A former Postmaster General says that President Trump is wrong -- the Post Office makes money delivering for Amazon.

Science: Scientific American reports that orangutans use plants as medicine.


Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 22

Watson has been writing about excuses for not being contented. He continues:
2. The second branch of the objection is, but my husband takes ill courses; where I looked for honey, behold a sting.

It is sad to have the living and the dead tied together; yet, let not your heart fret with discontent; mourn for his sins, but do not murmur. For, 1. God hath placed you in your relation, and you cannot be discontented but you quarrel with God. What! for every cross that befalls us, shall we call the infinite wisdom of God into question? O the blasphemy of our hearts!
2. God can make you a gainer by your husband’s sin; perhaps you had never been so good, if he had not been so bad. The fire burns hottest in the coldest climate. God often by a divine antiperistasis turns the sins of others to our good, and makes our maladies our medicines.


The more profane the husband is, oft the more holy the wife grows; the more earthly he is, the more heavenly she grows; God makes sometimes the husband’s sin a spur to the wife’s grace. His exorbitances are as a pair of bellows to blow up the flame of her zeal and devotion the more. Is it not thus? Doth not thy husband’s wickedness send thee to prayer? thou perhaps hadst never prayed so much, if he had not sinned so much. His deadness quickens thee the more, the stone of his heart is an hammer to break thy heart. The apostle saith, “the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the believing husband;” (1 Cor. 7. 14) but in this sense, the believing wife is sanctified by the unbelieving husband; she grows better, his sin is a whetstone to her grace, and a medicine for her security.


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.)
 

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Sunspots 671

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



Christianity: A Relevant article discusses the question of whether selfies are selfish.

Stephen Colbert (yes, THAT Stephen Colbert) discusses his faith with Oprah Winfrey.

Education: ListVerse has 10 recommendations for improving the English alphabet. They make sense, but good luck with that.

Ethics: Christianity Today reports on a survey which measures how various groups of Americans feel about lying. Evangelicals are most opposed to several types of "white lies."

Politics: FiveThirtyEight on gun control measures that have recently been enacted, at both state and federal levels.

A Fox News commentator says that President Trump's claims that Amazon pays no taxes, and is hurting the US Postal service, are "absurdly wrong." Gizmodo also comments on these claims by Mr. Trump. National Public Radio reports that the governing board of the postal service cannot make decisions, because it lacks a quorum, mostly because the Trump administration hasn't nominated governors for the post office.

Science: NASA reports that an object from outside out solar system passed through recently.

Scientific American reports on the new human organ, discovered a few days ago. Really.

Gizmodo reports on a study that shows why cracking your knuckles can make popping sounds.

Sports: Scientific American has an article which argues that there really are "hot hands" (streak shooters) in basketball, and other sports, and even non-sport endeavors.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, April 01, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 21

I know that, in North America, at least, this is Easter, and He is Risen. But I'll continue the series.

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

The third apology is, it is sad with me in my relations: where I should find most comfort, there I have most grief. This apology or objection brancheth itself into two particulars, whereto I shall give a distinct reply.

1st. My child goes on in rebellion; I fear I have brought forth a child for the devil. It is indeed, sad to think, that hell should be paved with the skulls of any of our children; and certainly the pangs of grief which the mother hath in this kind, are worse than her pangs of travail; but though you ought to be humbled, yet not discontented; for, consider, 1. You may pick something out of your child’s undutifulness; the child’s sin is sometimes the parent’s sermon; the undutifulness of children to us, may be a memento to put us in mind of our undutifulness once to God. Time was when we were rebellious children; how long did our heart stand out as garrisons against God? How long did he parley with us and beseech us, ere we would yield? He walked in the tenderness of his heart towards us, but we walked in the frowardness of our hearts towards him; and since grace hath been planted in our souls, how much of the wild olive is still in us? How many motions of the Spirit do we daily resist? How many unkindnesses and affronts have we put upon Christ? Let this open a spring of repentance; look upon your child’s rebellion and mourn for your own rebellion.


2. Though to see him undutiful is your grief, yet not always your sin. Hath a parent given the child, not only the milk of the breast, but “the sincere milk of the word?” hast thou seasoned his tender years with religious education? Thou canst do no more; parents can only work knowledge, God must work grace; they can only lay the wood together, it is God who must make it burn; a parent can only be a guide to show his child the way to heaven, the Spirit of God must be a lodestone  to draw his heart into that way. “Am I in God’s stead,” saith Jacob, “who hath withheld the fruit of the womb?” (Ge. 30. 2) Can I give children? So, is a parent in God’s stead to give grace? who can help it, if a child having the light of conscience, Scripture, education, these three torches in his hand, yet runs wilfully into the deep ponds of sin? Weep for thy child, pray for him; but do not sin for him by discontent. 3. Say not, you have brought forth a child for the devil; God can reduce him; he hath promised “to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4. 6) and “to open springs of grace in the desert.” (Is. 35. 6) When thy child is going full sail to the devil, God can blow with a contrary wind of his Spirit and alter his course. When Paul was breathing out persecution against the saints, and was sailing hellward, God turns him another way; before he was going to Damascus, God sends him to Ananias; before a persecutor, now a preacher. Though our children are for the present fallen into the devil’s pond, God can turn them from the power of Satan, and bring them in the twelfth hour. 

Monica was weeping for her son Augustine: at last God gave him in upon prayer, and he became a famous instrument in the church of God.

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, March 28, 2018

Sunspots 670


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


The Arts: (Thanks to one of my brothers for this one!) National Public Radio reports that a farmer uses the positions of his cows to write messages visible from a satellite. There's a video. Really.

Christianity: He Lives reminds us that the Gospel is for believers, too.

BioLogos on why the bodily resurrection of Christ is so important.

Health: Gizmodo reports on infant deaths in the US, state by state. The US, as a whole, has a higher death rate than Europe, and no state is as low as Europe.
   Science: Scientific American reports that meditation may not make us "nicer."

New Scientist reports on a newly discovered human organ, and some of its importance.


Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 20

The second apology that discontent makes is, I have a great part of my estate strangely melted away, and trading begins to fail. God is pleased sometimes to bring his children very low, and cut them short in their estate; it fares with them as with that widow, who had nothing in her house, save a pot of oil: (2 Ki. 4. 2) but be content.

1. God hath taken away your estate, but not your portion. This is a sacred paradox, honour and estate are no part of a Christian’s jointure; they are rather luxuries than essentials, and are extrinsical and foreign; therefore the loss of those cannot denominate a man miserable, still the portion remains; “the Lord is my portion, saith my soul.” (La. 3. 24) Suppose one were worth a million of money, and he should chance to lose a pin off his sleeve, this is no part of his estate, nor can we say he is undone; the loss of sublunary comforts is not so much to a Christian’s portion, as the loss of a pin is to a million. “These things shall be added to you,” (Mat. 6. 33) they shall be cast in as overplus. When a man buys a piece of cloth he hath an inch or two given in to the measure; now, though he lose his inch of cloth, yet he is not undone, for still the whole piece remains: our outward estate is not so much in regard of the portion, as an inch of cloth is to the whole piece; why then should a Christian be discontented, when the title to his spiritual treasure remains? A thieve may take away all the money that I have about me, but not my land; still a Christian hath a title to the land of promise. Mary hath chosen the better part, which shall not be taken from her.


2. Perhaps, if thy estate had not been lost, thy soul had been lost; outward comforts do often quench inward heat. God can bestow a jewel upon us, but we fall so in love with it, that we forget Him that gave it. What pity is it that we should commit idolatry with the creature! God is forced sometimes to drain away an estate: the plate and jewels are often cast overboard to save the passenger. Many a man may curse the time that ever he had such an estate:
it hath been an enchantment to draw away his heart from God; “they that will be rich, fall into a snare:” are thou troubled that God hath prevented a snare? Riches are thorns; (Mat. 13. 7) art thou angry because God hath pulled away a thorn from thee? Riches are compared to “thick clay;” (Ha. 2. 6) perhaps thy affections, which are the feet of the soul, might have stuck so fast in this golden clay that they could not have ascended up to heaven. Be content; if God dam up our outward comforts, it is, that the stream of our love may run faster another
way.


3. If your estate be small, yet God can bless a little. It is not how much money we have, but how much blessing. He that often curseth the bags of gold, can bless the meal in the barrel, and the oil in the cruise. What if thou hast not the full fleshpots? yet thou hast a promise, “I will abundantly bless her provision,” (Ps. 132. 15) and then a little goes a great way. Be content thou hast the dew of a blessing distilled; a dinner of green herbs, where love is, is sweet; I may add, where the love of God is. Another may have more estate than you, but, more care; more riches, less rest; more revenues, but with all more occasions of expense; he hath a greater inheritance, yet perhaps God doth not give “him power to eat thereof” (Ec. 6. 2) he hath the dominion of his estate, not the use; he holds more but enjoys less; in a word,thou hath less gold than he, perhaps less guilt.


4. You did never so thrive in your spiritual trade; your heart was never so low, as since your condition was low; you were never so poor in spirit, never so rich in faith. You did never run the ways of God’s commandments so fast as since some of your golden weights were taken off. You never had such trading for heaven all your life; this is most abundant gain. You did never make such adventures upon the promise as since you left off your sea-adventures. This is the best kind of merchandise. O Christian, thou never hadst such incomes of the Spirit, such spring-tides of joy; and what though weak in estate, if strong in assurance?
Be content: what you have lost one way, you have gained another.


5. Be your losses what they will in this kind, remember in every loss there is only a suffering, but in every discontent there is a sin, and one sin is worse than a thousand sufferings. What! because some of my revenues are gone, shall I part with some of my righteousness? shall my faith and patience go too? Because I do not possess an estate, shall I not therefore possess my own spirit? O learn to be content.


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.)

Sunspots 669

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


Christianity: He Lives has a brief post on the importance of the resurrection.

Computing: ZDNet reports that Microsoft claims that its artificially intelligent language translators have become as good as expert human translators, in changing sentences in news reports from Chinese to English.

Gizmodo on how to use Facebook, but make as little information as possible available to others while doing so.

Health: Gizmodo reports on a study of how a virus spreads between passengers in an airplane.

History: Sojourners tells us some interesting facts (or not) about St. Patrick.

Politics: A Relevant writer says that some white evangelicals seem to have a double standard on Presidential morality.

An annotated list of people and things that President Trump has insulted on Twitter, as of January 3, 2018. (It's a long list!)

Science: Scientific American reports on experiments that suggest that people are less likely to return favors, as time increases since the first favor.

Gizmodo on why our faces change shape as we get older.

Gizmodo reports on really black, and really white materials, including paint.

Gizmodo also reports on the bone structure, and possible flight behavior, of Archaeopteryx.

Scientific American reports on a study that showed that having tigers around farms in Bhutan increased farm profitability. Reason: the tigers kept some other predators away.


Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 19

The first apology which discontent makes is this; I have lost a child. Paulina, upon the loss of her children, was so possessed with a spirit of sadness, that she had liked to have entombed herself in her own discontent; our love to relations is oftentimes more than our love to religion.

1. We must be content, not only when God gives mercies, but when He takes away. If we must “in every thing give thanks,” (1 Th. 5. 18) then in nothing be discontented.
2. Perhaps God hath taken away the cistern, that he may give you the more of the spring; he hath darkened the starlight, that you may have more sun-light. God intends you shall have more of himself, and is not he better than ten sons? Look not so much upon a temporal loss, as a spiritual gain; the comforts of the world run dregs; those which come out of the granary of the promise, are pure and sweet.
3. Your child was not given but lent: “I have, saith Hannah, lent my son to the Lord;” (1 Samuel 1. 28) she lent him! the Lord hath lent him to her. Mercies are not entailed upon us, but lent; what a man lends he may call for again when he pleases. God hath put out a child to thee a while to nurse; wilt thou be displeased if he takes his child home again; O be not discontented that a mercy is taken away from you, but rather be thankful that it was lent you so long.
4. Suppose your child to be taken from you, either he was good or bad; if he was rebellious, you have not so much parted with a child, as a burden; you grieve for that which might have been a greater grief to you; if he was religious, then remember, he “is taken away from the evil to come,” and placed in his centre of felicity. This lower region is full of gross and hurtful vapours; how happy are those who are mounted into the celestial orbs! The righteous are taken away, in the original it is, he is gathered; a wicked child is cut off, but the pious child is gathered. Even as we see men gather flowers, and candy them, and preserve them by them, so hath God gathered thy child as a sweet flower that he may candy it with glory, and preserve it by him forever. Why then should a Christian be discontented? why should he weep excessively? “Daughters of Jerusalem weep not for me, but weep for yourselves;” (Lu. 23. 28) so, could we hear our children speaking to us out of heaven, they would say, weep not for us who are happy; we lie upon a soft pillow, even in the bosom of Christ; the Prince of Peace is embracing us and kissing us with the kisses of his lips; be not troubled at our preferment; “weep not for us,” but weep for yourselves, who are in a sinful sorrowful world: you are in the valley of tears, but we are on the mountain of spices; we have gotten to our harbour, but you are still tossing upon the waves of inconstancy. O Christian! be not discontented that thou hast parted with such a child; but rather rejoice that thou hadst such a child to part with. Break forth into thankfulness. What an honour is it to be a parent to beget such a child, that while he lives increaseth the joy of the glorified angels, (Lu. 20. 10) and when he dies increaseth the number of the glorified saints.
5. If God hath taken away one of your children, he hath left you more, he might have stripped you of all. He took away Job’s comforts, his estate, his children; and indeed his wife was left, but as a cross. Satan made a bow of this rib, as Chrysostom speaks, and shot a temptation by her at Job, thinking to have him shot to the heart; “curse God and die:” but Job had upon him the breast-plate of integrity; and though his children were taken away, yet not his graces; still he is content, still he blesseth God. O think how many mercies you still enjoy; yet your base hearts are more discontented at one loss, than thankful for an hundred mercies! God hath plucked one bunch of grapes from you; but how many precious clusters are left behind?
You may object, But it was my only child, — the staff of my age, — the seed of my comfort, — and the only blossom out of which my ancient family did grow.
6. God hath promised you, if you belong to him, “a name better than of sons and daughters.” (Is. 56. 5) Is he dead that should have been the monument to have kept up the name of a family? God hath given you a new name, he hath written your name in the book of life; behold your spiritual heraldry; here is a name that can not be cut off. Hath God taken away thy only child? he hath given thee his only Son: this is a happy exchange. What needs he complain of losses, that hath Christ? He is his Father’s brightness, (He. 1. 3) his riches, (Col. 2. 9) his delight. (Ps. 42. 1) Is there enough in Christ to delight the heart of God? and is there not enough in him to ravish us with holy delight? He is wisdom to teach us, righteousness to acquit us, sanctification to adorn us; he is that royal and princely gift, he is the bread of angels, the joy and triumph of saints; he is all in all. (Col. 3. 10) Why then are thou discontented?
Though thy child be lost, yet thou hast him for whom all things are loss.
7. Let us blush to think that nature should outstrip grace. Pulvillus, an heathen, when he was about to consecrate a temple to Jupiter, and news was brought him of the death of his son, would not desist from his enterprise, but with much composure of mind gave order for decent burial.


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, March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking, famous doubter of God's existence (or importance) has died

This blog is normally reserved for the Sunspots column on Wednesdays, and one such was published earlier today. But the death of Stephen Hawking is important enough that I'm also publishing a link to a post, from a few years ago, which analyzes Hawking's thought.

Thanks for reading.

Sunspots 668


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


The Arts: (And Christianity) A Christianity Today author, an expert on Madeleine L'Engle, discusses what she hopes is not lost in the film version of L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. (She had not seen the film, which opened on March 9.)

Christianity: A Relevant writer says that God takes happiness seriously, and that we should, too.

(and Computing) A blog post documents that some Christian (?) leaders are deliberately inflating their social media follower numbers.

(and politics) Relevant reports that officials of the National Association of Evangelicals, and of the Southern Baptist Convention, are urging Congress to adopt some solution for the so-called Dreamers.

Relevant also reported that Wayne State University has refused to allow Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship on campus, because IVCF requires its leaders to be Christian. IVCF sued, and, two days later, Christianity Today reported that the ban was dropped.

Christianity Today reports that a Christian Canadian couple had their foster children removed because they wouldn't teach them about the Easter Bunny. But that decision was overturned.

Ken Schenck makes his annual Biblical argument for women in ministry.

"We truly ought to give thanks to God that we are not more gorgeous than we are—or more intelligent, or more creative, or more rich, or more influential, or more wise, or more whatever ..." from an article in Christianity Today.



He Lives discusses the history of sola scriptura, as part of a series on biblical inerrancy, what it is and what it means.


Politics: The New Scientist reports that fake news travels much faster than real news.

Science: Gizmodo reports that older termites are placed in more risky situations, including in battles.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 18

CHAPTER X
Use III. A Suasive to Contentment.
 

It exhorts us to labour for contentation; this is that which doth beautify and bespangle a Christian, and as a spiritual embroidery, doth set him off in the eyes of the world. But methinks I hear some bitterly complaining, and saying to me, Alas! how is it possible to be contented? “The Lord hath made “my chain heavy;” he hath cast me into a very sad condition.”

There is no sin, but labours either to hide itself under some mask; or, if it cannot be concealed, then to vindicate itself by some apology. This sin of discontent I find very witty in its apologies, which I shall first discover, and then make a reply. We must lay it down as a rule, that discontent is a sin; so that all the pretences and apologies wherewith it labours to justify itself, are but the painting and dressing of a strumpet.


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, March 07, 2018

Sunspots 667


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



Christianity: Weekend Fisher has a good meditation on competition, from a Christian perspective, posted during Lent, and, as she notes, between the Winter Olympics and March Madness.


Education: National Public Radio reports that Dolly Parton has spearheaded a long effort, which, so far, has resulted in 100 million books being made available to children.

Finance: (and politics) An article in Bloomberg examines what US companies are doing with their tax savings. Not very much is going to employees. About twice as much is going to stockholders as to investment in upgrades, research, and such.

Food: Relevant reports on the fanciest McDonald's in the US.

Health: National Public Radio says that North Americans put their backs at risk because of their postures when bending over.

(and/or politics) Gizmodo, and other outlets, report on a study that says there are fewer gun injuries while the National Rifle Association convention is being held, presumably because the attendees aren't using their guns during that time.

History: Gizmodo reports that a 131-year-old message in a bottle has been found.

Humor: (and politics) National Public Radio reports on the annual Gridiron Dinner, giving many of the jokes, by President Trump and others.


Politics: A Pew Research poll shows that white evangelicals want more gun control, too.

Scientific American on how the Trump administration is letting public lands be exploited, and wilderness destroyed.

Science: According to The Atlantic, over half of the genes of common fruit flies have analogs in humans.

Gizmodo reports that termites have been placed in the same group of insects as cockroaches.

Christianity Today (!) reports that many environmental scientists are experiencing sadness and depression, because of the accelerating damage to the environment, caused by humans.

Thanks for looking!

Image source (public domain)

Monday, March 05, 2018

Perhaps people should post the greatest commandments, not the Ten Commandments?


Greatest Commandments: summary of the Law

The Greatest Commandments. (Or the greatest attitudes to have!)

The Ten Commandments have often been posted in people's yards, and other places. But I've never seen these two commandments, to unselfishly love God, and other people, in anyone's yard, nor seen a movement to post them in courtrooms, even though the Bible says that they are the greatest commandments.

With the attitudes needed to keep these two great commandments, keeping the Ten Commandments will take care of itself. I hope I have these attitudes.

Lest there be any doubt, I have nothing against the Ten Commandments!

For another post on this topic, see here.

Thanks for reading, and looking.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

The Art of Divine Contentment: An Exposition of Philippians 4:11 by Thomas Watson. Excerpt 17

If men are rich, they learn to be covetous; thirsting insatiably after the world, and by unjust means scraping it together; their “right hand is full of bribes,” as the Psalmist expresseth it. (Ps. 26. 10) Put a good cause in one scale, and a piece of gold in the other, and the
gold weighs heaviest. There are, saith Solomon, four things that say, “it is not enough:” (Pr. 30.15) I may add a fifth; the heart of a covetous man. So that neither poor nor rich know how to be content. Never certainly since the creation did this sin of discontent reign or rather rage more than in our times; never was God more dishonoured; you can hardly speak with any, but the passion of his tongue betrays the discontent of his heart; everyone lisps out his trouble, and here even the stammering tongue speaks too freely and fluently. If we have not what we desire, God shall not have a good look from us, but presently we are sick of discontent, and ready to die out of an humour. If God will not forgive the people of Israel for their lusts, they bid him take their lives; they must have quails to their manna. Ahab, though a king, and one would think his crown-lands had been sufficient for him, yet is sullen and discontented for Naboth’s vineyard. Jonah though a good man and a prophet, yet ready to die in a pet; and because God killed his gourd, kill me too, saith he. Rachel, “give me children, or I die;” she had many blessings, if she could have seen them, but wanted this contentation. God will supply our wants, but must he satisfy our lusts too? Many are discontented for a very trifle; another hath a better dress, a richer jewel, a newer fashion. Nero, not content with his empire, was troubled that the musician had more skill in playing than he. How fantastic are some, that pine away in discontent for the want of those things which if they had, would but render them more ridiculous!

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.)