Sapphire Sky

September 14, 2014

The Word

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Tags: , — Steve Knaus @ 1:29 am

John will use several different descriptions of Jesus through the course of his gospel as he introduces us to different aspects of his character.  But he uses a very simple term, “The Word” (Greek: logos), to introduce us to him.  The significance of Logos is lost in our English world, but means far more than just “word”.  “Logos” conveys the entire message, both the said and unsaid.

 

To the Greeks in John’s day, the gods were distant.  The philosopher Plato said, “Maybe one day, a logos (a message or a word) will come from God who will reveal the mysteries and make things plain.” (*)

 

The Jews in John’s day had a clear understanding of God’s word.  The Old Testament contains many references to God’s power and presence expressed through his word.  For example:

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. (Psalms 33:6)

 

But John makes this more personal.  Not only does the Word (logos) signify the power and the presence of God, but it is also a person.  This man that John has come to know is more than a mere human!  To the Greeks, he is the one who will reveal the mysteries.  To the Jews, he is the power and the presence of God.  But he is more than a mere force — he became human and lived among us!

 

​ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
(John 1:1-5,9)

 

John starts out his gospel with an extended introduction to The Word (logos).  In many ways, this introduction is a summary of the entire gospel:

  • The Word is fully God (he was with God and he was God)
  • The Word has God’s attributes, including eternity (in the beginning), power (creation)
  • The Word is the source of all life
  • The Word is the source of all goodness.  He stands against evil and is greater than Evil (referenced by light vs. darkness) [1]
  • The Word is the true light.  The real thing!

 

But there are more personal notes about The Word:

 

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
(John 1:6-8)

John the Baptist (not the author) is sent ahead as a witness of the Word.  John only lived to reflect the light back on Him. [2]

 

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1:9-13)

Sadly, The Word came to his own country, but his own people rejected him.  But therein is also the good news: he gives the right to be children of God to those who do receive him!

This is the core of our confusion about Jesus Christ.  The point here is very clear and very simple: Jesus — the very one who made the world — came into the world.  Yet the world did not know him.  His own people did not receive him.

But the good news is also here: he has given the right to be God’s children to those who did receive him!

This is a critical point: what does it mean to receive him? Jesus came with a message of who he is.  He also came with a call. When we receive him, we yield our allegiance to him.  It means that we believe who he is and have placed our faith in him. [3] This challenge is the same for us in the 21st century as it was for those who lived with Jesus in the 1st century.

 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(John 1:14,16-17)

John (the author) has personally seen the glory of the Son of God.  But his fullness and his grace is not only limited to the eyewitnesses: we can all receive his grace.  Not just once, but over and over again (“grace upon grace”).

In case you have any doubts about who The Word is, John concludes his prologue with a very specific ending: “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.

Jesus Christ is the Word (logos) from God.  But he is more than a message.  He is more than power.  He is God himself!

 

 

[1]  John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”.  This allusion of light vs. darkness contains much more truth than can be elaborated on here.  The light vs. darkness is often referenced in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament (see also Isaiah 9:2).  Both light and darkness are personified here.  The light actively invades the kingdom of darkness.  The kingdom of darkness attemts to destroy the light but fails.  Here is a brief overview of the ministry of Jesus Christ as the light: he comes to earth and enters the domain of Satan.  Satan seeks to destroy him and finally to kill him on earth, but Satan ultimately fails.

 

[2] The term “witness” cannot be overstated here.  The original word, martyria (also our root word for “martyr”) is used three times in 1:6-8 alone to describe John the Baptist.  John’s purpose was to be witness of Jesus Christ.  John shows his personal zeal later in the chapter (1:19-28), emphasizing that he is not to be compared with the coming messiah.

 

[3] This is paraphrased from John MacArthur, “To receive him who is the Word of God means to acknowledge his claims, place one’s faith in him, and thereby yield allegiance to him.” (MacArthur Study Bible Notes, John 1:12)

 

Previous post: Who is Jesus?

September 8, 2014

Who is Jesus?

Filed under: praise, theology, Uncategorized — Steve Knaus @ 2:06 am

Who is Jesus?

There may be no one in history with more written about than this man.  Authors have been busy for almost 2,000 years writing pages and volumes that reflect their thoughts of Jesus Christ.

 

Like the people who lived 2000 years ago, everybody today seems to have an opinion.   He is often called a great teacher, a miracle worker, a martyr. Some say that he was God.

 

The more I hear from people, the more I see that most people are trying to reinterpret the life of Jesus Christ into a person that they would like to see based on their own wants and needs. Lonely people want a friend. Hurting people want a miracle worker. Liberals like the one who opposed the religious and political establishment. Conservatives like the one who promised to uphold the law. Everybody likes the message of love, although few agree on what it means. The list goes on.

 

But we have missed the point.  We are looking at Jesus as if he was a cosmic force that exists for our own personal needs. He was a real man. He lived. He died. He came to life again.

 

Even in Jesus’ own day, people were filled with expectations of who he should be and what he should do for them. One thing is for certain: people who came to Jesus with preconceived notions all went away greatly disappointed.

 

So who is this man?  The first four books of the New Testament, known as The Gospels, tell us about the life of Christ Jesus and provide excerpts of his work.  The Fourth Gospel, written by John, provides some of the most personal glimpses of Jesus’ life on earth.

 

John was one of Jesus’ disciples and one of his closest friends. He does not attempt a biography but writes with the point:

 John 20:30-31

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

 

John’s point is twofold: (a) believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and (b) have life when you believe.

 

I have been challenged to write down what I encounter as I study through John’s book over the next several weeks.  I will try to use this blog as a means to share the most significant discoveries.

 

August 29, 2014

Celebrating Life!

Filed under: adoption, marriage and family, Ministry — Anthony Biller @ 11:25 pm

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for times of adversity. – Prov. 17:17

After 23 hours of travel, I turned my phone back on as the plane taxied to the gate.  Within seconds my phone rang, “Are you here?” my friend Allen asked.  He was picking us up in a large passenger van he picked up from the rental lot for us earlier in the day. My brother Travis should be waiting also with his truck to move our luggage.  Allen asked me to give him a 30 second warning prior to exiting the terminal.  He said there were a few folks waiting for us.

Our kids emerged one by one from their various rows on the plane.  We were excited to be back in North Carolina. Some groggy. One son had to be shaken awake; he stumbled toward the door. Then the text messages started pinging.  Same line of enquiry: where are you? Let us know when you’re close to leaving the terminal.  There are a few folks here …

To depart Terminal 2 at RDU, you climb a flight of stairs and walk down a long meeting placepartitioned hallway, about 50 yards long and emerge at a “meeting place” and a Starbucks. After the obligatory airport bathroom ordeal with ten children, we thanked God for our passage, sent the warning text, and ascended the stairs to exit.

We walked about ten yards down the hall and heard them before we saw anything.  It sounded like the vuvuzelas common to southern hemisphere soccer games, but maybe an octave higher pitch. Exiting passengers further ahead looked back, scanning the crowd and grinning.

welcome home1There was a horde waiting for us.  A wonderful, beautiful throng of family and friends, cheering and hooting.  It wasn’t vuvuzelas; it was at least a dozen children running around with birthday whistles blowing as loud as they could.  My brother estimated there were somewhere between one hundred to two hundred people.  Our children were stunned.  Our youngest adopted son was overwhelmed.  I found him and he rested his face against my shoulder.  I would like to say that I was overwhelmed, but I was too tired.10609556_451606891644663_2209963271664009958_n

For three weeks, Lesley and I had counted to ten repeatedly throughout the days, counting to make sure we had all the children with us.  In the past 23 hours, together we probably counted the kids dozens of times as we travelled through several airports.  Now, everyone was lost in the crowd. After the first ten minutes of hugging and embracing, I realized I had no idea where any of our kids were in this crowd.  I didn’t even know where Lesley was.  It did not matter.  We were home, with friends.  We were absorbed into a giant human love sponge.

Welcome home.

On the ride from the airport, I felt great. Home is so much more than a place.  It is where you belong.  It occurred to me that this is a glimpse of what our real homecoming one day will be like.  Surrounded not just by the people of God, but in the presence of the author of life Himself.

welcome home2Our friends were telling us something much more than welcome home. They were celebrating the new lives added to our family. They celebrated our adoption.  They celebrated the wonderful gift of life.  His people love life.  We “get” adoption, particularly those of us that have been close to it.  Adoption is a celebration of the new family, but for believers, it is also a celebration and reflection of the eternal father’s adoption of His children, of those that have placed their faith in His son. Each one of us is adopted.

Sometimes God is not subtle. His holding us up along this way has been so clear in ways big and small.  Even symbolically.  As our friends arrived at the airport to greet us, a giant rainbow showed over the airport. Several friends said that as they approached, the rainbow appeared to end at our terminal.

Rainbow RDU August 20It is good to be home.  The children are doing really well.  In our travels and at home, God has abundantly provided.  He continues to make the way smooth before us.  He strengthens and encourages us, particularly through his people. We are grateful for and continue to covet your prayers. It is humbling. Please keep praying!

There’s still some adjusting.  Our youngest daughter still doesn’t really get “America.”  When we pull into our neighborhood, she still yells “America!” We returned to the start of soccer season, homeschool, co-op and a busy work schedule.  We have little idea of how to figure out the new “normal.” But God is clearly providing, one day at a time. Last night, our “middle” adoptive son proudly recited John 3:16 to us.  Last December, he hardly spoke a single word of English.

God is great.

welcome home 3welcomehome5welcomehome6

May 29, 2014

2010 World Cup Shockers

Filed under: sports, video, World etc. — Anthony Biller @ 11:11 pm

May 9, 2014

World Cup Fever

Filed under: sports, video, World etc. — Anthony Biller @ 8:36 am

June 12 quickly approaches!

April 25, 2014

Deciding to Adopt God’s Word

Filed under: adoption, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 12:50 pm

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Psalm 84:1-4

Are you crazy?  I’ve heard that question from others and internalized the question to myself a few times since we decided to adopt six children from an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  And five of them are boys!

Our answer?

It was not our idea.  It’s not that we did not want to do this.  To the contrary, we are excited and eager (in fact frustrated by the tediousness of the process). God has given us a love and passion for these children that only increases over time.

But that’s the thing: this was God’s doing.  Not our own.  As I’ve explained earlier, not only was this not our idea, it was counter to what we had planned and contrary to the little rules we agreed would govern hosting or adoption.  God has made clear to us that He has different plans.

How did we know it was God’s will for us and not an emotional response or reaction to what we ate for breakfast? How can you ever be certain whether God is leading you or whether you are simply rationalizing your desires as being the will of God?

Well, we knew because we heard God talking to us the way He typically does: through His Word, through His People, through the circumstances he put us in,  and by that very quiet urging deep in our souls.  Through the solid convergence of these four, God spoke to us.  The more we prayed about it, the louder all four seemed to speak to us.

His Word on Adoption

I am somewhere in the second year of my one-year read through the Bible program.  Every time I do a read-through the Bible program, I’m surprised how God anticipated my falling behind.  So often the readings (which should have been completed weeks (or months!)) ago coincide perfectly with God answering my then current prayers and questions.

Last Christmas season was no different.  As the orphans were with us, I was much more diligent in my daily readings. And those readings several times reminded and encouraged me regarding God’s heart for orphans and widows.  Some of such passages follow:

Orphans and Fatherless

James 1:27  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.rembrandt-16

Exodus 22:22-24  You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

Deuteronomy 10:18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.

Deuteronomy 24:17-21 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Psalm 68:5, 34-35  Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. … Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Psalm 82:3  Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Servants

The Bible does not, however, compel Christians to adopt.  Adoption is simply one way to serve in a manner pleasing to God.  We are however mandated to be servants of the living God:

Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Romans 13:9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

Acts 20:35  In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Matthew 18:2-5 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”

Proverbs 24:11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.

John 3:15 That whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

I have also recently been encouraged and reminded that adopting and being entrusted with parenting a child or children is an incredible gift from God. The costs (and frustrations) of adoption are small price compared to the blessing received:

Psalm 127:3-5  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!

In studying the Biblical rationale for adoption, I was reminded of an interesting historical note.  Who is the most famous person you can think of that was adopted? Moses!

Acts 7:21 And when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.

Every Christian is Adopted

As Lesley and I approached the “deadline” during hosting to decide whether we were going to pursue adopting our children, someone recommended that we read Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore.  I bought it and added it to the “top” of my “most urgent” reading pile of books.  In quickly perusing its contents, I was convicted by the fact that each one of us professing Christians are broken orphans who have been adopted.  God quickly reminded us and convicted us of His words in this regard:

John 14:18  “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Romans 8:15-17  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Gal 4:4-7: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

These passages remind us all who we are. Contrary to what the world might have you believe, you were no accident of nature or circumstance.  You were created by the God of eternity who thought of you before time began.  He has a plan for you. Each one of us, if we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and savior, each one of us is a child and heir of the almighty, infinite and eternal God.  What an honor and what a gift!

Christ’s Hands – the People of God

The second way we knew this was God moving us was through his people.  Our Christian brothers and sisters came out of the woodwork to love on us and the children.  It was incredible.  The love, encouragement, prayers and material support were continual.  And what a huge difference that made to us.  God provided.  No material needs were unmet.  Friends gave us furniture and bags of clothing for the children. Nearly every meal for a month was delivered, without our having to ask.

I like to eat.  As a result, I work out.  Running is the most accessible way to exercise.  One early morning while the children were with us, I went for a run.  When I returned home, there was a car in our driveway.  A friend had brought us breakfast. I saw the woman bringing a GARBAGE BAG apparently filled with food into our house.  I was amazed.  An entire garbage bag filled with food?  That’s a lot. Kind of incredible.  Even with ten kids, that’s more than we need for breakfast.

I was wrong.  She didn’t bring a bag filled with food.

SHE BROUGHT SIX BAGS OF FOOD!  We’re still eating some of it nearly four months later.

In fact, despite having to feed twelve people three meals a day for a month, I don’t believe we cooked more than two or three times for dinner.  Our friends continually brought food.  And everything and anything else we needed.

When God gives, He gives abundantly.

We wanted for nothing, for which we will remain thankful.

God fed us, through His people.  God encouraged us, through His people.  God provided for us, through His people.  God loved us, through His people.  God’s people prayed for us and our way was smooth.

Even now, as we build a new home and go through the expenses of the international adoption process, God blesses us through his people.  Good friends of ours run the website http://homeschoolmania.com  and are selling adoption friendly clothing and donating 100% of those sales proceeds as well as 50% of all online proceeds towards our adoption effort.  Further, several friends have donated directly to our adoption agency designating their donations towards our adoption costs. God continues to provide for and encourage us through his people.

Circumstances and Urging

The final pieces that confirms this is God’s leading and directing is when our present circumstances and internal feeling of being led align with God’s word and the influence of God’s people. It was not simultaneous, but over time, Lesley and I each felt convicted that we were to adopt these children – to bring these children into our home as our children.  I am convinced and every adoptive we have spoken with tells us: both parents must feel called to this.  If one does not feel called to adopt the children, you should not do it.  Over several weeks, Lesley and I varied back and forth, but as time passed we found ourselves with the same conviction.  We explored several easier alternatives, but each time and in various ways, God closed each of those doors.

We have other friends we’ve made during this journey where they felt led to adopt particular children, but God firmly closed the doors.  In our case, the desire and the circumstances have thus far aligned. One circumstance seemed quite obvious – after it happened. Nearly five years ago we bought a piece of property on which to planned to build a home designed for homeschooling and a lot of books.  We prayed for years that God would bless that effort and use the home for his purposes.  But it never worked out.  For years and for various reasons, we were simply unable to move forward with construction.  Everything came together towards the end of 2013 – finances, design and builder.  While lying in bed on the night we committed to hosting the six orphans, I realized that earlier that day Lesley and I had also signed the contract to build our house on that property – after many years of waiting and prayer.  The design was very easy to modify to accommodate 10 children! The timing and convergence of circumstances did not occur to us until after they occurred.  There have been other events, some significant, that have occurred since to make the way clear for our adoption effort.  It confirms our conviction that this is entirely God’s doing and timing.

Finding yourself in the midst of God’s will and His timing, is exciting. It reminds me of body surfing large waves in the Atlantic.  A very large force moves you in ways and fashions beyond your control and often differently than what you anticipated.

Thank you for your prayers and support. God is Great!

 

 

 

April 24, 2014

What a difference a month makes!

Filed under: adoption, Life!, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 10:18 am

Anthony Biller:

Long time Christian friends, fellow triathlete and former Army tell of their first month with adoptive daughter … the pictures show it all … click over to original to see the last picture!

Originally posted on Another Zotter Daughter:

We met our Mia Joy Yu Yan 1 month ago today.

Instead of typing a lengthy update, I’ll let the pictures tell the story…

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Day 1. We had just arrived back at our hotel room. She was still dressed in the clothes that she came to us in. The sadness and fear in her eyes broke our hearts.

The first day we met her.

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Day 2 – she was very sick and slept a lot

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Day 3 – still very sick and sleepy

Day 4 - unsure of these strangers who wouldn't go away no matter how many times she closed her eyes at us

Day 4 – unsure of these strangers who wouldn’t go away no matter how many times she closed her eyes at us

Fast forward to this week at home in North Carolina:

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Easter Sunday

With her sisters and Cousin Jason on Easter Sunday

Ready for the Easter egg hunt with Cousin Jason and her big sisters

Her first egg hunt

Her first egg hunt

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Taking a break from the egg hunt

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Story time before bed

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Sleeping peacefully in the car seat

Laundry is fun!

Laundry is fun!

A smile so big she can hardly see! A smile…

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April 20, 2014

Jesus Between the Criminals

Filed under: encouragement, theology, Uncategorized — Steve Knaus @ 12:06 am

Commentary from the Desiring God web site for Easter:

Jesus Between the Criminals

Crucifixion in the ancient world was intended to take as long as possible. No vital organs were damaged, so it took two or three days to die, often from shock or asphyxiation, as muscles used for breathing grew weak.

Luke 23:39–43 is a conversation between Jesus and the criminals crucified alongside him, and it is in the Bible because crucifixion was slow. There was time to talk. This conversation is surely one of the most extraordinary in the Bible. It shows us the similarities of these three dying men, and yet, at the same time, how very different Jesus is.

I encourage you to read the rest of the article:

http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/jesus-between-the-criminals

April 12, 2014

If I were the Devil … Harvey 1965

Filed under: culture, marriage and family, politics, economy, etc., video — Anthony Biller @ 9:57 pm

The legendary newscaster saw what was happening as it began to unfold.  He called it.

April 1, 2014

And what about you too?

Filed under: music, theology, video — Anthony Biller @ 2:57 pm

U2’s Bono on Christ.

March 30, 2014

I’m a Christian and I think ‘Noah’ deserves a four star review

Filed under: culture, encouragement — Anthony Biller @ 5:45 pm

Originally posted on The Matt Walsh Blog:

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On Friday, my wife and I had a very rare date night.

Naturally, we decided to spend it being pummeled by the blaring condescension of the most insipid, absurd, unimaginative, clumsily contrived piece of anti-Christian filmmaking to come along since, well, probably just last week.

In fact, if I learned anything from Noah, it’s this: despite popular perception, you can often judge a book by its cover. Also, giant deformed rock monsters make for awkward supporting characters.

We’ll meditate on that second item in a moment, but it’s the first point that should be especially emphasized.

Christians: you’ll hear people insist that you can’t criticize the movie until you’ve seen it. Noticeably, the loudest voices in this camp are the ones who will (rather coincidentally, I’m sure) profit immensely if you meet their challenge.

Don’t.

Don’t bother.

You can hate this film without watching it, for the same reason…

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March 29, 2014

Praying for Children

Filed under: marriage and family, Poem — Anthony Biller @ 11:04 pm

We pray for children
by Ina J. Hughs

We pray for children
who sneak popsicles before supper,
who erase holes in math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

And we pray, for those
who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never “counted potatoes,”
who are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead,
who never go to the circus,
who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
Who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
Who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
Who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
Who slurp their soup.

And we pray for those who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can’t find any bread to steal,
who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
and never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
whose tears we sometimes laugh at
and whose smiles can make us cry.

And we pray for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children
who want to be carried
and for those who must,
for those we never give up on
and for those who don’t get a second chance.
For those we smother
and for those who will grab the hand of anybody
kind enough to offer it.

We pray for children.
Amen

So Sleep Binka

So Sleep Binka

February 27, 2014

Answers in Genesis to begin Construction of Ark Encounter

Filed under: culture, Ministry — Anthony Biller @ 7:57 pm

Bond Offering Succeeds for Full-Size Ark

Ark Encounter moves forward; groundbreaking in sight

During tonight’s live web stream hosted by the president/CEO of Answers in Genesis, Ken Ham, AiG announced that enough money had been raised for the Ark Encounter bond offering to allow the release of the funds to start construction of the Ark project in Williamstown, Ky.

Under Ham’s direction, a full-scale 510-foot-long Noah’s Ark will be built as the featured attraction at the Ark Encounter. Research indicates that the Ark, located south of Cincinnati in Grant County, Ky., will draw up to 2 million people in its first year.

“We praise our Creator God for His blessings and for the incredible support we just witnessed from our generous supporters around the country,” declared Ham. “Yes, there have been days of nervous anticipation. Many challenges and road blocks came up as we worked through the stages of the bond offering leading up to the final bond delivery. From atheists registering for the bond offering and attempting to disrupt it, to secular bloggers and some reporters writing misleading and inaccurate articles about the bonds—the obstacles were numerous and disruptive.”

“It was a challenging time, one that on a human level required a miracle to overcome,” Ham added. “And God in His providence supplied our needs.”

The recent global media coverage of the Ark project and the soon-to-be-released film “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, plus Ham’s well-publicized February 4 debate with Bill Nye “The Science Guy” (over 7 million people watched live), have all helped bring the Ark Encounter to the world’s attention. Accordingly, Ham noted another aspect of God’s providence in the Ark project: “The date of my debate with Bill Nye had been on our calendar several months before we knew the final delivery date of the Ark bonds. But in God’s timing, not ours, the high-profile debate helped encourage more of our ministry friends to get involved in the past few weeks.”

At Thursday’s live web stream, Ken was joined by AiG scientist Dr. Georgia Purdom, VP of Advancement Joe Boone, Michael Zovath and Patrick Marsh of AiG’s Ark Encounter team, and the AiG board. The mayor of Williamstown, Rick Skinner, was on hand, as well as Darrell Link, the Judge-Executive of the county and Pastor Jeff Davenport of Calvary Baptist Church in northern Kentucky.

The Ark Encounter will be built on 800 acres off I-75 and in phases over many years. The Ark and other supporting elements will open during phase one. The first phase will cost an estimated $73 million. Several million dollars in donations and Ark boarding passes (memberships) had been raised prior to the bond offering, and most of that amount has already been used to pay for the Ark’s land, secure expensive permits and licenses, clear the property, draw architectural plans, design the exhibits, etc.

Meanwhile, with the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky., successfully drawing two million guests in six years, AiG is master-planning its expansion  (40 miles from the Ark site) to handle an anticipated 50% attendance increase  when the Ark opens.

“Even in a difficult economy, tens of thousands of supporters have made donations, purchased bonds, or bought Ark boarding passes in the past three years,” Ham observed. “With the funding in place to build the Ark, it is now our goal to raise an additional $15 million in donations to provide more attractions like the special high-tech and interactive exhibits that guests have come to appreciate at our museum.”

With the completion of the bond offering, the next milestone is groundbreaking, for which a tentative date will be announced in a few weeks.

Without government funding to build it, the Ark Encounter is a one-of-a-kind historical themed attraction. In an entertaining and educational way, it will present a number of themes from the Old Testament, centered on a wooden Ark.

The Creation Museum’s attendance has exceeded projections since it opened in May 2007 and has been a major economic asset to the area. With an Ark coming to the region, the Creation Museum’s attendance will grow, and the Ark will spur and support thousands of jobs in the region and bring in significant tourist dollars.

Answers in Genesis is a biblical apologetics ministry. This month, more than two million people visited its website. AiG conducts about 300 teaching meetings each year, publishes the award-winning family magazine “Answers,” and produces the “Answers” radio program heard on more than 760 stations in the U.S.

To watch a recording of Thursday evening’s live web stream featuring Ken Ham and others in the Ark project, go to www.ArkEncounter.com.

ark-encounter-wallpaper-impressionist

Kids Free 2014 Creation Museum

Filed under: Ministry, video — Anthony Biller @ 10:37 am

February 18, 2014

Macho Shrubs

Filed under: humor, video — Anthony Biller @ 10:03 pm

Rhett & Link on gardening …

February 14, 2014

The Legend of Valentine

Filed under: culture, encouragement, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 10:15 am

The Roman Emperor Claudius II Gothicus, AD 268-70, is said to have been a large and fierce man.  In his efforts to fight the invading Goths and Germans, he attempted to increase the size of the Roman army.  Volunteers were few, due largely to what was essentially a life-long commitment of being a Roman soldier. Legend has it that the Emperor believed young men weren’t joining because they were too comfortable and too interested in pursuing women.  (Some things never change.  My classmates in college often were incredulous that I was volunteering for military service. I was often asked “Why?!”.)  With dictatorial efficiency, Claudius solved that problem by simply outlawing marriage.

One problem, legend has it that the Priest Valentinus continued to marry Christians.  When called before the Emperor, Valentinus refused to acknowledge the Roman Gods and reportedly witnessed to Claudius the truths of Jesus Christ.  Claudius had Valentinus killed.

A few observations from this legend of Valentine, whom we celebrate each year with a festival of love and affection. He was martyred over refusing to surrender the sacrament of marriage to Rome and for proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ to a pagan emperor.  This legendary Valentine sounds more like a man passionate for Christ and the integrity of the church and its sacraments than he does the ruby little cherubs we see on the front of Valentines Day cards who are committed to spreading kisses and romantic mischief.

If we want to celebrate Valentines Day consistent with the man for whom the day is named, we should honor this legendary martyr through observances he would approve and that would be consistent with his life.  Foremost, we should take the opportunity to witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ to someone.

Second, we should look for a way to support the sacrament of marriage.  For those of us married, that should start with tending to our own marriages.  Are we entirely faithful – not just physically, but also emotionally, in our relations, and with our time as well – to our life mate?  We should pray over our marriage, with our spouse.  For those not married, give an encouraging word to your married friends and pray today for their marriages.  Tell them you are praying for them.

Third, recommit today to loving in a manner worthy of our Christian calling — with all that we have and all that we are.  We are called not just to love others and God with all that we are, but to love also our enemies and those we just do not like.  May Christ so strengthens us.

God bless and Happy Valentines Day.

Update: A Godly Valentines Day Gift from a husband to a wife: commit to praying with your bride – see Spiritual Intimacy a Marriage ‘Game Changer’

February 12, 2014

Nye and Ham Exchange Facebook Challenges

Filed under: culture, Ministry — Anthony Biller @ 7:55 pm
Nye issued Ken Ham a post-debate challenge via Facebook.  Nye challenged Answers in Genesis to create and live on an ocean bound ark.  Ham responded by asking Nye to explain the reason for his reasoning, literally, one of many questions Nye repeatedly ignored during the men’s recent debate.  Ken’s FB response yesterday warrants the best Christian-philosophical-apologetic Facebook challenge post ever … reprinted below with permission:
Liked · 17 hours ago

Bill Nye, after our evolution/creation debate last week at the Creation Museum, publicly issued me a challenge yesterday on his Facebook page.He stated :

From Bill Nye The Science Guy: “I would challenge him to build a real ark. Instead of trying to fund an ark park, Ken, why not build a real one and take it to sea for a full year? And Ken, if you’re too busy with your flock there in Petersburg, KY, have your most competent parishioners take a shot. Send 8 of your toughest, smartest people to, say, Norfolk, have them design and build a 500 foot wooden boat, load it up with 17,000 pretty good-sized animals, and show us how straightforward it would be to have it remain seaworthy for a year. They have to gather all the food needed locally before they set sail, of course. It’s one more thought experiment that would illustrate how unbelievable the literal story of Noah is, as translated into modern English. Also, we’d have to stipulate that all humans and animals come ashore alive …”

So I would like to publicly respond to Mr. Nye in the following way.Bill, during the debate last Tuesday, I asked you this question:“How do you account for the laws of logic and laws of nature from a naturalistic worldview that excludes the existence of God?”I challenge you, once again, to provide a rational basis for your worldview. You dodged the question in the debate, and you continue to do so. Until you answer that question, you have no reason to trust your inductions or the uniformity of nature and have no basis to tell us what is right and wrong. I trust those things because I know the God of the universe who created those laws and has promised to uphold them in a uniform way–which is consistent with His perfect character. Indeed, I have a reason for my reasoning.The battle, as I said more than once in our debate, is not about the evidence. (And it seems even a number of Christian naysayers about the debate still don’t get this vital point, either!)

And besides, Bill, you know this, as I even showed you a “single piece of evidence” of an out-of-place fossil (using the secularists’ own dating methods)—45,000-year-old wood in 45-million-year-old rock! You said one piece of evidence like this would change your mind—but you willingly ignored it.

Again, why is your assumption that science is possible apart from God reasonable?

Frankly, you are not a “reasonable man” because no reasonable man who claims to be consistent with reality rejects the truth of God’s Word. In fact, the Bible makes it clear in Romans chapter 1 that you know God exists, but you are suppressing that truth in what the Bible calls unrighteousness.

No “reasonable man” believes that reason, emotion, or morality evolved from the random interaction of chemicals over billions of years. Therefore, you have no foundation. You have a blind faith, one which causes you to borrow from the Christian worldview to even make sense of the world around you.

Bill, I urge you to use your God-given reason to respond to God’s Word, such as:

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

Bill, Noah’s Ark was a real ship—and it is a picture of a real message of salvation from God’s judgment on man’s sin, including yours. (And the answers to your questions about the seaworthiness of the Ark and how it could have been built are on our website; also AiG is not a church and so we don’t have parishioners.) Just as Noah and his family went through the door of the Ark to be saved, we need to go through the door of our Ark of Salvation.

Jesus Christ said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

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Nye Ham

February 11, 2014

A Lesson in Writing from CS Lewis

Filed under: books, homeschooling — Anthony Biller @ 9:56 pm

The Kilns,cs-lewis-writing
Headington Quarry,
Oxford
26 June 1956

Dear Joan–

Thanks for your letter of the 3rd. You describe your Wonderful Night v. well. That is, you describe the place and the people and the night and the feeling of it all, very well — but not the thing itself — the setting but not the jewel. And no wonder! Wordsworth often does just the same. His Prelude (you’re bound to read it about 10 years hence. Don’t try it now, or you’ll only spoil it for later reading) is full of moments in which everything except the thing itself is described. If you become a writer you’ll be trying to describe the thing all your life: and lucky if, out of dozens of books, one or two sentences, just for a moment, come near to getting it across.

What really matters is:–

1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.

2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keepthem.

3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”

4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, “Please will you do my job for me.”

5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.

Thanks for the photos. You and Aslan both look v. well. I hope you’ll like your new home.

With love
yours
C.S. Lewis

From the collection of C.S. Lewis’ response letters to children: Letters to Children

Hat tip: http://www.lettersofnote.com/

February 5, 2014

Dr. Mohler on the “Nye Reasonable Guy”

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., culture — Anthony Biller @ 10:12 am

Last night during the debate, I had the privilege of sitting next to Dr. Al Mohler, the Dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  I’ve long admired his writings, blog, and lecture series.  As freezing rain pelted Northern Kentucky last night during the debate, Dr. Mohler’s mind was on fire, as I suspect it always is.  As While I sat back to observe and enjoy the debate, Dr. Mohler wrote furiously throughout the evening.  Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, he posted an excellent debate analysis.  Excerpts follow and I strongly encourage you to read the entire post at Dr. Mohler’s blog:

In this light, the debate proved both sides right on one central point: If you agreed with Bill Nye you would agree with his reading of the evidence. The same was equally true for those who entered the room agreeing with Ken Ham; they would agree with his interpretation of the evidence.

That’s because the argument was never really about ice rods and sediment layers. It was about the most basic of all intellectual presuppositions: How do we know anything at all? On what basis do we grant intellectual authority? Is the universe self-contained and self-explanatory? Is there a Creator, and can we know him?

On those questions, Ham and Nye were separated by infinite intellectual space. They shared the stage, but they do not live in the same intellectual world. Nye is truly committed to a materialistic and naturalistic worldview. Ham is an evangelical Christian committed to the authority of the Bible. The clash of ultimate worldview questions was vividly displayed for all to see.
….

Ken Ham is a Young Earth Creationist (as am I), but the larger argument was over worldviews, and the debate revealed the direct collision between evolution and the recognition of any historical authority within Genesis 1-11. As if to make that clear, in making one of his closing arguments, Bill Nye actually went back to cite “this problem of the ark.”

The ark is not the real problem; autonomous human reason is. Bill Nye is a true believer in human reason and the ability of modern science to deliver us. Humanity is just “one germ away” from extinction, he said. But science provides him with the joy of discovery and understanding.

The central issue last night was really not the age of the earth or the claims of modern science. The question was not really about the ark or sediment layers or fossils. It was about the central worldview clash of our times, and of any time: the clash between the worldview of the self-declared “reasonable man” and the worldview of the sinner saved by grace.

See entire post here.

 

Re: The Debate

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., culture, entertainment — Anthony Biller @ 12:11 am

I generally agree with Rev Travis’s comments about the debate, below.  Some thoughts after having just returned from the debate in person …  I found striking the complete difference between the men – not just content, but also in character and style.  In person, I found Nye routinely condescending and arrogant to Mr. Ham, while Ken seemed continually meek and humble in response.  I wonder if this viewed the same on the live streaming.

Nye refused to concede that there was any difference between historical and observational science.  He seemed to argue that we presently observe the age of the earth, apparently through radioisotope dating, but he had no response to the wildly inconsistent age readings from such methods.  He offered no explanation regarding the problems with the assumptions upon which these methods rely.  He looked surprised when Ken showed the nearly hundred different type isotope dating methods and the fact each on produces quite different results.

From the audience, it seemed that Nye repeatedly and directly assaulted on  reliability of scripture in the second half of the debate.  In criticizing Ken’s positions, Nye criticized Ken’s reliance upon the Bible by implying the Bible is unreliable based on the “Chinese whispers” logic of passing along information over long period of time and made numerous critical remarks about relying upon “an ancient document that’s been translated into English.”  Nye scoffed at the idea that sin affected all of creation and was all but contemptuous of the global flood.

Favorite part of the debate was when Nye could not answer where the matter that led to the Big Bang came from.  In response, Ken responded “Bill, there is this book that has the answer …”  Ken then quoted Genesis 1:1 and explained the Biblical account on the origins of matter.  The next question to Nye was what was the materialist explanation for consciousness.  Again, Nye could not answer.  Again, Ken responded, “Bill, there is this book that has the answer …” and he quoted and explained Genesis 2.

Nye’s explanation of consciousness was bizarre, something about our conscious   being “the universe looking at itself.”  Weird.  In the last quarter of the debate it became increasing apparent that Nye all but worships materialism.

I wish Ken had more time to explicate the “scientific” evidence of a young Earth.  See Ten Best Evidences from Science of a Young Earth. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to respond to many of Nye’s points.  I believe Answers in Genesis is doing a follow-up streaming broadcast to go over many of these points.

As expected, I don’t think either side “won.”  Each side presented their position with clarity. For those already familiar with the arguments and issues, there was not anything new.  For those new to the debate or previously apathetic, it should have provided plenty of food for thought from both sides.  It was a general civil and engaging evening.  As stated, Ken explained the creationist perspective with humility and grace.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  I’m particularly interested to see whether or to what extent notice is given to Nye’s assault on the Bible and on basic biblical doctrines beyond creation.

UPDATE: see Debunking Bill Nye’s Arguments

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