Sapphire Sky

May 31, 2010

Kippling’s If, by Hopper

Filed under: Poem — Anthony Biller @ 2:11 pm

Dennis Hopper – RIP

May 29, 2010

Testimony

Filed under: encouragement — Anthony Biller @ 10:52 pm

God calls us to be witnesses of what he’s done in our lives.  In February this year, I had the privilege of sharing my testimony with the staff at Answers in Genesis.  What a fantastic group of people.  Of course my testimony is rather lengthy (I am a lawyer), but this rendition covers the major points of my salvation story and the beginnings of my journey to becoming a young Earth creationist: Tony’s testimony at AiG

May 28, 2010

Childhood Connections

Filed under: books, culture, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 10:03 pm

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you rise.  Dt. 6:4-7

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Eph. 6:4

The pathologies of Godless living are undeniable and undeniably negative.  Humanism, post-modern thought, and institutionalized secularism produce wrecked lives, broken families, and crushed hearts.  Lifelong relationships are increasingly rare.  The post-modern culture seems inherently hostile to whatever is good and lasting.  Relationships with the living God of creation seem increasingly rare and certainly not appropriate for public discourse in “well educated” circles.  God is now deemed personal and subjective, and better done in isolation.  We’re a mobile, fractured society.  We’re easily fractured from each other and ever increasingly fractured from our creator and sustainer God.  People from “less developed” areas of the world comment on how we retreat into our closed garages and live inside, isolated from our neighbors and rarely in contact with our families.  The body of Christ is thriving and growing most outside “developed” nations.

As people increasingly accept the post-modern paradigm that truth is a subjective experience, the institution of the church suffers.  Churches that try to stay “relevant” to the culture and liberalize their theology become irrelevant and die or simply become moral social action clubs.  The intellectual elites increasingly view the Bible with hostility.  The church in Western Europe approaches extinction.

The family also suffers.  Divorce is now accepted as normal.  Increasingly, young people decide against marrying and opt instead for co-habitation and increasing numbers of children are born out of wedlock and increasing percentages of children are raised without fathers in the home.  Earlier terms had pejorative terms for what we now accept as normal.  Reproduction rates across most of Western Europe have fallen below replacement levels.  The same was recently reported for the native US population.  Within our hermetically sealed suburban homes, family connections are also suffering as we spend more time each year plugged into the latest electronic stimulation and less time each year plugged into each other.

There is an ever increasing body of evidence that these pathologies, particularly the breakdown of the family, have very negative effects on our children, and as a result, on society.  Another recent commission of experts has drawn the same conclusion.  Of note, this analysis also demonstrated the critical importance of a father’s involvement in the lives of his children.

LARGE AND GROWING numbers of U.S. children and young people are suffering from depression, anxiety, attention deficit, conduct disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other serious mental and behavioral problems. Why? What can be done to reverse this trend? In this pioneering report, the Commission on Children at Risk, a panel of 33 leading children’s doctors, neuroscientists, research scholars and youth service professionals, draw upon a large body of recent research showing that children are biologically primed (“hardwired”) for enduring connections to others and for moral and spiritual meaning.

Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities, order here.

DadsWorld.com reports:

Children with involved Fathers are more confident, better able to deal with frustration, better able to gain independence and their own identity, more likely to mature into compassionate adults, more likely to have a high self esteem, more sociable, more secure as infants, less likely to show signs of depression, less likely to commit suicide, more empathetic, boys have been shown to be less aggressive and adolescent girls are less likely to engage in sex. (more…)

A day like any other day

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. — Tags: — bigbluelab @ 10:26 am

I recently had a talk with someone who was reading a book to scientifically explain Genesis and how the first days of creation were not literal days. One of the arguments was that the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day so there really couldn’t be morning and night. Later as I tried to find useful information to send him, I found that the commentary in my Bible wasn’t exactly good either. If I remember right, the commentary said that of course there had to be a sun for there to be morning and night, but it was too hazy to really see much light. Hmmmmmm. That still didn’t sit well with me. What kept coming to my mind were all the references of Light (capital “L”). God is Light – both spiritually and physically. No one could look upon His face because of the sheer brightness. But what really hit me was in studying Revelation 22:5, “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them, and they will reign forever and ever.” Don’t you think that the God who can create life from nothing can also create light without a sun?

May 23, 2010

I Have A Confession…

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., culture, humor, theology — theosdoulos @ 5:32 pm

I have a confession to make…in an ever-growing culture of sound bites and video clips, I find that my life reveals “clips” that show a side of me I prefer not be known. In my role as pastor and missionary, I want people to see nothing but a courageous, faith-filled follower of Christ. My hope is that no one can see my occasionally faltering faith. Perhaps I have done a good job so far… or have I? So whether those clips have been observed or not, I have a confession I must reveal.

Before I make my transparent admission, let me tell you about the last 24 hours. Here’s the gist – I have been pursued by a loving God to face a weakness in my walk with Him. Yesterday, after a 40-day ordeal with our aging mini-van, the car broke down again. (What’s sad is that I merely drove it away from the auto shop that just finished repairing the problem. Just 10 miles down the road…viola! ) Trust God is all things? At that moment to any observer the “clip” of my life would reveal anything but a man of faith. I’m amazed to realize how God gets most of the blame for a car not running. Been there and definitely done that!

Then it happened…a long time friend drove up, offered help. However, I politely dismissed his help due to the tow truck on its way (and partly out of embarrassment). He drove away and I sat back down in the van waiting for the tow truck. (I think the driver and I are on first name basis now!) After a few minutes I decided to text the would-be Good Samaritan to thank him for stopping and offering help. But at that moment, he drove up again, jumped out of his car and declared he was not going to leave me stranded. There in the pouring rain, he assessed the problem and sought to make the minor repair to get me back on the road.

After some elbow grease and finding the right tools, the van’s engine purred back to its rustic self. My friend had accomplished what he set out to do. He even followed back me to the auto shop to drop off the car. (I felt this was my only option since the gun shop was closed!) And then he offered me a ride home. Later that night I reflected on the fact that while I was playing the blame game with God, He Himself was already in motion to show His power and care for me. My friend embodied Christ’s love in the flesh for which I am very grateful.

This morning I listened to another long time friend teach from Matthew 6:25-34 about trusting God in all matters rather than worry. This was a timely encounter with God on the subject. As I reflected on this truth I discovered that the last 24 hours revealed a great weakness in my walk with Christ.

So I have a confession (actually two):
First – there are times in my walk with Christ that I act like a Practicing Atheist. Yes, really! I view God as if He does not have control of anything in this world. He might as well be powerless to work on my behalf. Then He sends a Good Samaritan by to prove His power. But that’s not all…

Second – there are times in my Christian experience that I become a Brooding Agnostic. I see God as if He doesn’t care about my circumstances. “Hey, Lord, we’re having a crisis here, jump in anytime you desire…preferably now!” Have I dropped down on His list of priorities? Was I ever on it? Then He sends a Good Samaritan by to show how deeply He cares for me.

There – I confessed it. Now what? Train my heart to trust God: trust Him more, trust Him deeply. In Matthew 6:26 we read the words of Christ “Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.” (The Message)

Today, I’m just learning to be a trusting follower of Christ and be “careless in the care of God.”  How about you?

May 21, 2010

My love/hate relationship with running

Filed under: sports — Steve Knaus @ 3:29 pm

Top things I hate about running

  1. Speed work in the severe cold
  2. Tempo runs in the sweltering heat
  3. Hitting the wall miles from home
  4. The pain of minor injuries
  5. The fear of major injuries
  6. Running out of water
  7. Pushing too hard and paying for it
  8. Answering detractors (No, it won’t kill me!)

Top ten things I love about running

  1. The solitude of a solo run
  2. Deep talks on a run with family or a patient friend
  3. Being faster than my brothers
  4. Trying to keep up with my sisters
  5. The adventures of long runs
  6. The goodies given out at races
  7. Eating what I want, as much as I want
  8. Being in shape and having more energy
  9. Accomplishing goals; finding my limits
  10. The support of my family


May 20, 2010

Robots robots robots …

Filed under: culture, politics, economy, etc., video — Anthony Biller @ 9:51 pm

My youngest brother just graduated from high school, and like his brothers, he plans on serving his country in the US Army, which awarded him a scholarship to study engineering in college while training to be an officer.

I admire and support his decision to commit to officer’s training; I don’t though envy him though.  It’s not because the US is in a land war in Asia; it’s because the future looks so uncertain for purposes of planning a career … we may hardly comprehend or even imagine today what our economy and technologies will look like in 40 years.

The rate of change only continues to increase.  The world in 2000 AD looked nothing like the world of 1900.  I’m afraid 2100 will be even more dramatically removed from what life in 2000 was like.  The founder of www.howstuffworks.com, Marshall Brain, hasa thoughtful essay on this topic titled Robotic Nation here.

National Review comments in their May 3 edition:

We have been hearing for some time — about a century — that we shall soon have robots to take over low-level manual tasks, leaving the human population free to write sonnets, compose symphonies, or paint in oils.  Perhaps there is something to it: Researchers at the University of California – Berkeley, have just demonstrated a robot that can fold towels.  There’s some way to go yet, though, before all drudgery is purged from our lives: The mechanical marvel takes an average of 25 minutes to fold one towel.

May 19, 2010

More bad news for our kids …

Filed under: culture — Anthony Biller @ 9:48 am

Not only are we piling up lots of debt — trillions and trillions — for our children to pay off, apparently, we’re birthing fewer and fewer children to pay it in the future. Fittingly, during the year where we’ve cast off constitutional constraints and moved deliberately to the European social welfare state model, we are now also adopting for the first time their birthing practices, ie our birthing rate has fallen below the replacement level. See here.  The social welfare state with a declining population base is economically unsustainable absent massive immigration, which creates its own set of problems and instabilities.

May 17, 2010

Sexless Humans …

Filed under: culture — Anthony Biller @ 11:57 pm

I’m not at all against technology; it makes life more predictable and safe and often more interesting.  It can, however, also detract from the pleasures of life. For example, the PDA is great technology, but it can take away from family time and family communications.  Technology can also take away from what it means to be human.  Here’s an instance where technology may do both.  The UK’s Daily Mail reports that “scientists” opine: Sex will not be used to have babies in just 10 years, as couples turn to IVF 

Maybe the Luddites were on to something?

Visiting home …

Filed under: Poem — Anthony Biller @ 11:41 pm
Grand River

 

Old grey mists fleeting past               

We were summer’s children               

With warm grandparents in winter                

We were together only yesterday          

 

Forests and playfields gone               

28 empty theatres                               

Quiet houses, lonely streets               

They were real only yesterday           

 

New faces and buildings

My children now laughing                 

Grandparents hugging smiles 

Time flowing on like yesterday.

 

May 14, 2010

Where did we come from?

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., entertainment, video — Anthony Biller @ 9:25 pm

Is there any more exciting and important question?

May 13, 2010

Thanks and Praise III

Filed under: praise — Anthony Biller @ 10:37 pm

 Nos. 1- 10, 11-20,

21.  God whispers

22. Fresh pineapples from Hawaii

23. Cheeseburgers fresh off the grill and hot, buttery, salty corn on the cob, and seconds on those cheeseburgers

24. God’s incredible creativity

25. We live in a land where we are free to worship and praise God

26. God hears our worship, praise and prayers

27. How incredibly made is the human body

28. Faith in eternity

29. A loving, faithful wife

30. the Gettys

Your federal tax dollars at work: renting from Hamas

Filed under: politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 10:23 pm

From the Investigative Project on Terrorism: Government Pays Mosque it Considers Radical

My political outrage meter is so worn from the past year that this hardly registers … but it should.

May 12, 2010

Canucks are Golfing

Filed under: sports — Steve Knaus @ 10:23 am

For those who are following the NHL playoffs:

May 11, 2010

Undergarment Struggles

Filed under: entertainment, video — Anthony Biller @ 12:38 pm

Remembering those halcyon days, when t-shirts used to simply be fun.  Could this lead to the next arms race?

May 9, 2010

True Beauty

Filed under: encouragement, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 9:54 pm

The apostle Paul encourages us to focus on those things that are good and pure.  Mother’s day is a day devoted to just that – celebrating and rejoicing in one of the purest and best aspects of humanity.  The bond of mother and child is one of our strongest and most intimate forces.  Praise God for the love of and for our mothers.

I thank God for the woman who gave me birth and raised me and for the woman who has given selflessly of herself to birth and raise our children.  My wife’s love for our children is as certain and steady and warming as the sunrise.  I thank God also for my grandmothers who loved my parents into existence, and then me, my siblings, and my cousins.

We really shouldn’t need a particular day to celebrate mothers.  The birthday of each child should be a celebration of the birth, i.e. a celebration of what God has accomplished through the mother’s labor.  The child should bring gifts to the mother.  That is not, however, the nature of parenting, particularly of motherhood. 

There’s an old Hebrew proverb, God could not be everywhere, so he made mothers.  While I disagree with that theology, I agree with its sentiment.  Motherly love is perhaps the closest our fallen race gets to godliness.  Self-sacrificing love is the essence of motherhood.  Thank you Moms!

May 7, 2010

Sexy little thang …

Filed under: culture — Anthony Biller @ 8:57 pm

I remember the first time I visited Craigslist.  We had posted some children’s items for sale.  I was surprised and initially impressed by the range of products and services offered on the site and started surfing around.  It wasn’t too long before I noticed the “friendship” or “relationship” ads.  The explicit statements stunned me.  The Red Light District in Amsterdam had nothing on those postings.  Turns out that at least some of those girls advertised on Craigslist were/are still little girls.  While we were selling kids stuff, other folks were selling their kids … 

The open letter below to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster is a good reminder that the sex-porn  industry  is based on abuse, either harvesting the fruit of sexually abused children or too often, directly exploiting and abusing children.

An Open Letter to Jim Buckmasterby Rachel Lloyd

Dear Jim,

We met about 18 months ago via video-conference and at that time I shared with you a story of an 11 year old girl that I was working with. I’m not sure if you remember her, but I’d like to share this story with you again.

“Bethany” had been in foster care since she was 2 years old and had bounced from foster home to foster home, until at 11 she was introduced to a friend of her 14 year old sister. This friend was a 32 year old man who lured her in with promises of a stable home and love, everything she’d been craving her whole short life. He took Bethany from New York down to a hotel in DC, bought her some ‘sexy’ clothes, and took pictures of her and then posted those pictures on your site, Craigslist. Bethany didn’t really think there was anything unusual about this, after all her 14 and 16 year old sisters were both being sold on Craigslist too.

For nine months, almost till she turned 12 years old, Bethany’s pictures were posted on Craigslist. Sometimes she was “NEW IN TOWN” when her pimp/trafficker would bring her to cities up and down the East Coast, posting her pictures in different regions. Sometimes she was “HOT N SEXXY FOR U” with her price listed as 150 roses. Night after night, adult men clicked on her ads, dialed a number and ordered her as easily as they would’ve ordered a pizza. Night after night, adult men came to the hotel room she was being kept in and had sex with her, or rather raped her, as at 11 years old she was too young to consent. Night after night, her pimp collected the money that he made from her and if it wasn’t enough he beat or whipped her, badly enough that she has permanent scars.

No-one who saw Bethany’s pictures ever clicked on the link on your site and reported “suspected exploitation of minors and/or human trafficking to the appropriate authorities”. No law enforcement ever found the ads that her trafficker posted in the midst of the hundreds and hundreds of other ads of girls for sale.

Bethany, and her two sisters, were sold on your site, just like hundreds of other girls I’ve worked with have been. Just like thousands of other girls and young women across America are sold every night. It’s hard to imagine that as a businessman with a sense of social responsibility that this wouldn’t sicken and horrify you. The thought that you could profit even one dollar, let alone millions of dollars, in any way from the sale of children has to deeply sadden and make you outraged to the point where you would want to ensure that this can’t happen – at least not on your site. I would’ve hoped that would be your automatic response anyway.

Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Your responses to the criticism though raise some interesting points.  Yes, while there may be a few people who are concerned about “casual sex” on your site, the vast majority of people who are signing petitions and raising their voices about this issue are doing so on behalf of girls like Bethany who don’t have a voice. Yes, while there are of course other sites, magazines and Yellow Page ads where girls and women can be bought, very few of them have the brand-name recognition that Craigslist does, and besides, the “other people are doing it too” argument seems to be one that our mothers taught us when we were in kindergarten didn’t hold much water. (Kudos, by the way, to New York Magazine for dropping all their sex for sale ads last year). And yes, while Craigslist has been cooperative with law enforcement on this issue, the sheer volume of postings of girls for sale on each night, in each city makes truly targeting traffickers and pimps a Sisphyean task.

This campaign isn’t about a “cynical misuse of a cause as important as human trafficking as a pretense for imposing one’s own flavor of religious morality”. In fact, for those of us on the ground who work with girls like Bethany every day, it’s saddening to have our work and our advocacy efforts framed as such. While we recognize that Craigslist taking a stand on this issue won’t end commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking in our country, it will send a powerful message to the adult male buyers that Craigslist will have no part in, nor take any profit from, the sale of 11 (or 14, or 16) year old girls.

Rachel Lloyd is the founder of Girls Educational & Mentoring Services.

Man without God …

Filed under: culture — Anthony Biller @ 8:38 am

Remember those horrific stories about Nazi doctors performing medical experiments on Jews?  Don’t think that our secular socialists are so terribly different than were the German Nationalist Socialists, particularly at American public universities.  WorldNetDaily reports that after a significant public relations campaign against the project, a major Big Ten university has cancelled plans to conduct late term abortions that would be used to harvest baby organs for research:

The University of Wisconsin Hospitals have dropped plans to establish a late-term abortion facility at the publicly funded Madison Surgery Center that would be used to provide “fresh fetal body parts” to researchers at the institution, according to reports today from American Life League and the Alliance Defense Fund.

May 6, 2010

Why are we here

Filed under: encouragement, video — bigbluelab @ 4:02 pm

I always struggle with finalizing a blog. Someone else always seems to say it better than how I would say things.

But as I was reading through Philippians today and came across 1:23-25, Paul talked about looking forward to Heaven yet realizing there is still more he had to do on earth. He says, “But I am hard pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.”

In reading these passages, it made me ask myself, is this the meaning of life? Is this why we are here? We are to appear as lights in the world holding fast the word of life (Phl 2:15-16).

So let us spend our time here on earth focused on Him, worshiping Him, loving Him, and serving Him by being of the same mind as Christ, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose, doing nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard for one another as more important than ourselves by not looking out for our own personal interests, but for the interests of others.

This is may so much easier said than done.

I later came across this video on YouTube called “We Are Here” which I thought was interesting given the state of mind I was in after reading Philipians:

In Christ Alone

Filed under: entertainment, music, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 1:17 pm

I think the Keith and Kristyn Getty are the best songwriters of our generation and that people will be singing the songs they’re writing today until the Lord returns.  Here’s a favorite …

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

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