Sapphire Sky

January 29, 2012

A Lovely Christian Litmus Test

Filed under: encouragement, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 6:04 pm

28And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. Mark 12

We can best evaluate how well we love by those around us.  The people with whom we spend the most time are the best indicators of whether we’re walking Jesus’ walk and displaying the fruits of a  Christian life.  Often, such people know us better than we know ourselves.  Our conceit and wishful self-perception do not deceive them.  Often, I’m tempted to define how Godly I am by how much time I spend doing purely religious activities, like reading my Bible, praying, and doing charity work.  That’s probably not the best test though.  I suspect the best way to measure whether we’re living the Christian life is to evaluate how well we love God and those around us.  Perhaps the best way to love God is to share his love with those whom he created and died for on the cross.

To determine whether you love, evaluate whether you are loved.  Be sensitive to whether co-workers are happy to see you at the beginning of the day.  When you come home, look for family members greeting you with a smile. Does the dog wag its tail or run the other way?  Intimacy begins with your family.  I think it’s an act of worship to know the dreams of each member of your family and to dream with them, to hold them and let them know you love them.  Praise and thank God in their presence for the gift of their life.  Praise and thank God in your private prayers for them. Seek intimacy with friends.  I naturally keep walls up, as I suppose most people do.  As Christians though, we should be committed to opening up and knowing and loving those that God puts on our path.

Marriage is “ground zero” for most of us in learning to love purely. The sacrament of marriage continually requires the Christian application of selfless love.  In marriage, two become one.  There is no better place to witness the presence or absence of Christ-like love.  In unconditional love, the marital union blossoms into a life-long relationship of trust, happiness, and peace.  Without it, the relationship or a spouse withers and dies.

Too many churches ignore the Apostle Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives.  The media gives critical attention to the role of the New Testament wife.  Namely, in the book of Ephesians, as well as in other places, Paul called on wives to submit to their husbands and established that husbands are the head of the family.  Our secular, non-believing compatriots ignore Paul’s instruction.  Even for believers, Paul’s admonition sounds harsh to our modern, egalitarian ears.  Unfortunately, the press reports only half the story.

In the book of Ephesians, in the very next paragraph, Paul calls on husbands to love their wives, “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … .”  (Eph. 5:25.)  Christ loved the church unconditionally and completely.  (John 15:13.)  Paul calls for a radical commitment.  Unfortunately, our secular friends are not the only ones to miss the significance of Paul’s complete instructions; many Christians fail to realize the radical nature of Paul’s instruction.  God calls the Christian wife to submit to a man whose duty it is to unconditionally and completely love her, even unto the point of his death.  The wife is to submit to her servant of love.  In such a relationship, there is simply no room for egos, pride, or selfish desires.  In a relationship of submission and servant love, divorce is unthinkable, which explains why God hates divorce.  (Mal. 2:16.)  Christian marriage should shine as a light to the world, especially a world where the majority of marriages end in the tears of loneliness, betrayal and divorce.

Of course, this is often easier to understand than it is to live it.  I’ve heard about Dads coming home from a long days work and finding the house in complete disarray, dinner uncooked, children swinging from the chandeliers, and Mom displeased over the whole affair.  Of course, I’ve never come home to such an estate, however, this is often considered a state of normalcy in homeschooling families … so I’ve read.  It’s also not unheard of for the Dad to get angry over this and to let his dissatisfaction be known.

It recently occurred to me how differently we men respond to other “crises.”  In the Army, if I moved to reinforce a fellow soldier’s position and found the enemy breaking through the wire, it wouldn’t occur to me to get mad and insist that my fellow soldier work harder.  I’d immediately jump in and help.  On the football field, if my running back fumbled the ball, instead of getting mad and looking for blame, I’d immediately jump to recover the ball for our team.  Same on the soccer field; if a fellow defender was beaten, I’d do everything I could to help stop the shot on goal.  I should have that exact same spirit and immediate response when I get home and find my spouse under duress, but that’s quite often not my natural response, yet my family is the most important team I’ll ever be on and my wife my lifetime MVP.

Let us encourage each other to be of good cheer and to do good works pleasing to Jesus.  Rejoice!

See Todd Wilson’s Family Man ministry, blog and hilarious books here.

January 22, 2012

I am second

Filed under: encouragement, video — Steve Knaus @ 10:44 pm

Thanks to our youth pastor for pointing out this video.  You can find out more about I Am Second here.  The specific link for Lecrae is here.

January 19, 2012

An Evangelical’s Case Against Romney … not what you think.

Filed under: politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 6:50 pm

A friend recently emailed to ask whether Sapphire Sky would venture an opinion on whether an evangelical Christian should support Mitt Romney in his bid to be president.  My friend admitted reservations about whether a vote for Romney would be an implicit endorsement or validation of Mormonism.

I do not plan on voting for Romney in the primary, but not because of his Mormon faith.  His Mormonism should not be a liability in the view of this evangelical.  To the contrary, in this day, Romney’s devout Mormon faith should be an asset for an aspiring political leader.

To be sure, I strongly disagree with the Mormon religion.  Mormon teaching on the identity of Jesus Christ is heretical to long-held evangelical, Catholic, and Orthodox beliefs.  Mormonism is also an apologetics train wreck with peculiar traditions.

While there is much in Mormonism to offend an evangelical, Mormon values or ethics are firmly planted in Judeo-Christian morality.  Mormons believe strongly in the reality and centrality of the God of Israel, the moral laws disclosed to Moses, and that we live our lives before an omnipresent and eternal God who will pass judgment on how we live if we deny his grace. Mormonism departs from orthodox Christianity, not in its view of the law, but in its view of Christ.  Like evangelical Christianity, Mormonism rejects post-modernism and, inherently, rejects secular humanism.  Practically, Mormonism teaches the importance of strong families, dedication, hard work, perseverance and temperance. In this, Mormons share the traditional protestant work ethic, in fact, better than many modern protestant churches.

The moral foundations of Romney’s Mormon faith share the fundamental Judeo-Christian values that gave birth to the western liberalism we take for granted and that led to unprecedented human freedom and prosperity in the West.  Judeo-Christian morality champions the worth of the individual, the objective nature of truth and morality, the importance of justice and the rule of law (Lex Rex), and that our lives should aspire to a higher calling, pleasing to the Creator of the universe, to whom we will all one day answer. As I said above, such a religious foundation is an asset for a political leader in this age.  Our political leaders exist to help craft and enforce effective laws.  They are not tasked nor in this country do we want them to be our spiritual leaders.

But, as I also said, Romney is not my primary candidate.  There is an ongoing moral offense that must be remedied.  Fifteen trillion dollars worth of national debt, and growing, is a moral blight that threatens the very existence of our Republic.  There is no relief in site.  Even if we avoid financial collapse, we’re leveraging our children’s future for our present comfort and to wage foreign wars. The avoidance of financial collapse is not a certainty.  To me, our present course is utter madness.  While I think Romney is a tremendously talented individual, I don’t think he’s the best candidate to address the debt.  The debt is caused entirely by out of control spending, particularly on social welfare and on international defense.  Mitt Romney has been a large government statist his entire career in politics.  As governor, he designed the government healthcare program that was the  blueprint for ObamaCare.  Not surprisingly, Romney’s solution isn’t to dramatically cut spending.  His solution is to implement a more powerful tax – the Value Added Tax.  No thanks.

The biggest surprise for me this election cycle is the realization that statists and neo-cons dominate the Republican establishment.  This should have been clear from the party standard bearers over the past two decades: George Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush and then John McCain.  Republicans and Democrats have largely shared in contributing to our national debt.  Romney, Gingrich and Santorum appear cut from the same statist cloth.  (Leaving one candidate that is not. See here and here.) More war and more federal programs will not turn this Republica around. In any event, in answer to the inquiry, I don’t view Romney’s devout Mormon faith as a reason to vote against him.

January 17, 2012

Identity Crisis – who are we?

Filed under: politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 11:04 pm

I remember as an officer in the US Army, I regularly took the following oath:

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.

My oath was premised on the promise to support and defend our Constitution.  I must admit, however, I had not really studied the document.  Aside from high school civics, it just was not a topic of discussion or of particular interest.  It said what it said.  When I first took the oath in 1986, as a cadet, I knew then it meant at the very least I was promising not to be a communist.

From the Army I went to law school.  We studied Constitutional law our first year (and second and third), and did I ever feel like a rube.  I studied that document.  I read it and knew it.  It did not take me long to realize that the document I had promised to defend, and as an infantry officer that inherently meant pledging my life, had been mutilated, distorted and twisted to mean whatever the political branches in general, and the Supreme Court in particular, wanted it to mean.  Military officers pledge their lives to defend a document without realizing that our highest judges and political leaders ignore and distort that same document to allow them whatever largesse and grant of power they want.  While we defended the document from foreign threats, it appeared to me that the document was ravaged from within.  Books have been written on the topic of how far we’ve strayed from the Republic laid out in our Constitution.

It was not until recently, however, that the consequences of this domestic dereliction of duty have become apparent.  Perhaps the most pressing and obvious, our 15 trillion dollars of debt and intractable social disputes are due directly to our abandoning the fundamental checks, balances and limits on our federal government that were established by our founders in what is allegedly our foundation legal document that our Armed Forces swears to uphold and defend.

Please review the Constitutional grant of powers below.  Curiously, there’s no federal power for establishing a national health insurance, healthcare, or prescription drug coverage; there’s no basis for a national education policy or for “No Child Left Behind”; there’s no federal authority for protecting the environment, building housing for the poor,  or for assisting urban development. There’s no mention of administrative bureaucracies controlled by the President that pass thousands of laws each year and then adjudicate those laws a.k.a. regulations.  There is no mention of the President having the power to send troops into combat operations for undeclared war.  Only Congress was given the power to declare war.  How many wars have we now fought since the last declaration of war? These powers were not given to the federal government through the Constitution.  Instead, federal politicians take or vote these powers unto themselves and the federal judiciary condones them.  These policies were nice and/or important, so aside from a few cranks and loons, the vast majority of the body politic did not care, for decades.

If we’re not a Constitutional republic, what are we – besides bankrupt? Does it matter?  In this election cycle, this issue is of central relevance. Unfortunately, only one candidate sounds the alarm.  The four other Republican candidates and our POTUS plan on more of the same.  We’ve largely abandoned the system of government on which this nation was founded. The federal government has completely exploded past the limited powers granted to it, denying itself hardly anything.  Now, like many a glutton, we find ourselves bankrupt.  We’re also politically gridlocked and largely ruled by an unelected extra-Constitutional federal administrative state.  Both the so-called left and the so-called right participated in creating this mess.  An incompetent and grossly ideologically biased press corp and educational establishment enabled decades of federal misconduct.  We all now share in paying the consequences.  Our future generations will also be paying the consequences, literally, presuming our Republic persists.  We’re broke and we’ve broken the system of government handed down to us.

THE ENUMERATED POWERS OF CONGRESS

U.S. Constitution – Article 1 Section

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

THE POWER OF THE PRESIDENT

Article II

Section 2 – Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, Appointments

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3 – State of the Union, Convening Congress

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT, THE NOW-IGNORED POST-SCRIPT: THE TENTH AMENDMENT

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

(which means that the only prerogatives of the Congress (as well as the Executive Branch and the Judicial Branch) are limited to those granted by the Constitution of the United States)

January 11, 2012

Are chocolate chip cookies the perfect food?

Filed under: humor, video — Anthony Biller @ 6:08 pm

Of course chocoloate chip cookies are not the perfect food.  Only cheeseburgers, the big warm bun with a huge hunk of meat, can make (and have made) claim to being Heaven on earth with an onion slice.  If there were, however, runner-up awards for culinary perfection, chocoloate chip cookies would warrant consideration.  To wit: 

(no live animals were injured or otherwise traumitized in the filming of this video)

January 9, 2012

Catching Interest In Denver

Filed under: sports — Anthony Biller @ 3:04 pm

While I don’t subscribe to the idea that God takes an active interest in the outcome of sports games, I’ve admired Tim Tebow’s open display of faith in Christ.  I also like the fact this Heiseman Trophy winner was homeschooled.

For many if not most games, Tim Tebow writes 3:16 under his eyes, standing for his favorite Bible verse, John 3:16.

Well in his first play off appearance and win yesterday, he set a personal record of passing for 316 yards and set a playoff record by averaging 31.6 yards per completion. See here.  And against the NFL’s number one defense.  Very cool.  3:16 cool.

January 6, 2012

What is the single best thing we can do for our health?

Filed under: food & stuff, sports, video — Steve Knaus @ 12:18 pm

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