Sapphire Sky

May 30, 2011

Remembering And Thanking Our Freedom Fighters

Filed under: culture, politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 11:20 am

Thousands have given their lives in service to our country, for our domestic security and for freedom abroad. 

A total of 4,435 patriots gave their lives in revolt against monarchical English rule.  Those lives paid for our republican experiment that we continue to this day some 236 years after the first shot fired in Lexington.

364,511 Union Soldiers died in our Civil War, fighting to preserve the Union and later against slavery as well.  Authoritative statistics for Confederate forces are not available. Estimates of the number who served range from 600,000 to 1,500,000. The final report of the Provost Marshal General, 1863-1866, American War and Military Operations Casualties: Lists and Statistics indicated 133,821 Confederate deaths (74,524 battle and 59,297 other) based upon incomplete returns.  In addition, an estimated 26,000 to 31,000 Confederate personnel died in Union prisons.

116,516 Americans died in WWI and 405,399 died in support of the Allies effort in WWII.  36,574 died in Korea and 58,220 in Vietnam.  6,013 Americans have given their lives in the current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.  See here and here

Further, thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines lose their lives each year in training accidents and in personnel injuries while training and while serving our country.  The government is not real open with these statistics, since they reveal that military service is a high risk occupation, particularly for those that serve in the combat arms.  See, e.g. here.

Thank a current or former service member and pray for our service members.   If you served our country – Thank you! 

We should work hard to end the ongoing fiscal irresponsibility that threatens our national heritage from within, the heritage that so many paid the ultimate price to preserve.

Finally, let’s also not forget, Airborne Rangers lead the Way!

May 26, 2011

Lady Gaga? Really?

Filed under: culture — bigbluelab @ 5:03 pm

The other morning I turned on Good Morning America to watch some morning news.  As they were returning from commercial break, they ran a short snippet of one of Lady Gaga’s music videos acting in a way that was beyond PG-13 to put it kindly.  I thought for sure the show’s hosts were going to talk about how appalling this was and how it is being exposed to our children.  However, it was just the exact opposite.  The show’s hosts came on happily talking about how great a performer she is and that she was going to be on the show performing live for a free concert.  Most of the audience cheering in the background were little girls.

I’ve seen Lady Gaga now a couple of times making appearances on some other morning news programs and other shows like American Idol. I can’t speak for her talents because I’ve never really listened to her singing, but her appearance and provocative fashion and dancing I would say are always well beyond a G, PG, or TV-14 rating.  She may have the right to freedom of expression. But when the form of expression surpasses a level of decency, morals, and ethic and is marketed toward kids, it has to make you ask, Really?

For years now, I’ve seen R-rated actors portray characters on various children’s shows.  For example, the narrator’s voice for the Thomas the Train kids TV series has been George Carlin, Jerry Springer, and Alec Baldwin. Really? Is this the best Hollywood could find to market to children?  Most young children wouldn’t recognize these names.  So why would producers spend the extra money to hire these celebrities?

As adults, we may recognize George Carlin as the infamous comedian for making popular the 7 dirty words.  Or how about Jerry Springer as the king of trashy talk shows.  Other voices I’ve seen over the years on children cartoons on PBS, Disney, and other kids’ channels have included Cheech Martin, Gilbert Gottfried, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Michael Myers, Jack Black, and so many others.

If you think about it, most of us probably wouldn’t allow these people to babysit.  Yet we invite them into our homes every time we tune in to any of these shows or plop in these popular DVDs.

Paul Ryan on Medicare

Filed under: politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 1:33 pm

What NY26?  Love the confidence implicit in the timing.  I also need to get one of those orange ties.

May 25, 2011

Life Affirming Legislation – Rights and Remedies

Filed under: biz, legal, and professionalism, politics, economy, etc. — deborahlawyer @ 8:17 pm

The U.S. House of Representative is considering some great new legislation known as the “NO TAXPAYER FUNDING OF ABORTION ACT” (H.R. 3).  Here are some important points about the proposed new law:

  • It would prohibit taxpayer funding of elective abortions as well as insurance coverage that includes elective abortion.
  • It offers conscience protections for health care providers, health care institutions, and health insurance providers.  The government would not be able to discriminate against any of these on the basis of their refusal to provide, pay for, cover, and refer for abortions.
  • These conscience protections also protect the many Americans who prefer to do business with health care providers and insurance companies that do not support abortion.
  • The law would create a legal cause of action for those whose conscience rights have been violated.

NO ONE should be compelled to act against conscience.  The abortion industry would like to coerce unwilling health care professionals and other providers into supporting their agenda—regardless of their religious, moral, or ethical convictions to the contrary.  This new law would grant permanent conscience protections and also ensure that your tax dollars are not siphoned off to fund abortions.

There is also encouraging new legislation being proposed in North Carolina:  “WOMAN’S RIGHT TO KNOW ACT.”  Any medical procedure required informed consent.  Abortion should not be an exception.  This new state law would ensure that no abortion is performed without the woman’s informed consent, and it would also create a 24-hour waiting period.

Praise God for these life affirming proposals in our federal and state legislatures!

The High Cost of Free Speech

Filed under: biz, legal, and professionalism — deborahlawyer @ 8:11 pm

Sometimes it costs money to speak, particularly in the context of a campaign or heated political debate.  Candidates and their supporters must raise and spend funds in order to get their message to the people.  But what if—every time you spent a dollar—the government cut a check to your opponent?

That’s the essence of Arizona’s “Matching Funds” provision, an integral part of its state campaign finance law.  Some candidates choose to finance their own campaigns privately, while others opt for public funding.  Suppose you are a privately financed candidate.  When you—or a supporting independent group—spend money for your campaign, the government disburses an equal amount to each of your opposing publicly financed opponents.

This scheme discourages political speech, one of our core First Amendment rights in America.  It is especially unfair to independent groups formed to advocate for particular issues—pro-life groups, for example.  Justice and Freedom Fund filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, focused on how the law burdens these groups.  Arizona’s scheme allegedly guards against political corruption—a goal not applicable to independent advocacy groups.  It also attempts to “level the playing field”—a purpose the Supreme Court has held to be unconstitutional in our free country.

On March 28, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging Arizona’s law.  Deborah Dewart, Senior Legal Counsel for Justice and Freedom Fund, was there to listen.  Based on the lively questions the Justices posed to attorneys, it looks like a victory for free speech.  Stay tuned!

Check out:  http://justiceandfreedom.org for more information on Justice and Freedom Fund.

May 19, 2011

Ark Encounter Officially Anticipated to Be a Tourist Attraction

Filed under: entertainment, Ministry — Anthony Biller @ 5:21 pm

Ark Encounter Receives State Approval
for Tax Rebates:
Economic impact study gives themed attraction high marks

 PETERSBURG, Ky., May 19, 2011 – This afternoon, the Tourism Development Finance Authority of Kentucky unanimously approved the application of the Ark Encounter LLC to receive a rebate of sales tax that is to be collected when the attraction opens in Grant County. Based on evaluating a 3-month study, the Authority determined that the project exceeds the criteria established by the state’s Tourism Development Act and thus qualifies to receive a sales tax rebate that Kentucky offers as an incentive for prospective tourist attractions to build in the state.

The Authority today approved the analysis conducted by the independent research group Hunden Strategic Partners. HSP was commissioned by the state to determine how much money tourists would spend at the future Ark Encounter and whether the attraction would have a net positive economic impact for Kentucky even after the rebates are factored in.

The report’s executive summary presented the bottom line of the likelihood of success: “Overall, the Project scores high on nearly all the critical success factors,” adding that “the Project meets all criteria identified by the Kentucky Tourism Development Act.”

The Tourism Authority determined that the Ark Encounter is eligible to receive a sales tax rebate from the sale of tickets, food, and resources at the Ark Encounter for 10 years. The performance-based incentive allows the Ark Encounter to recover up to 25% of its construction costs if it meets attendance and sales projections.  The remaining sales tax that is kept by the state plus other taxes collected (e.g., income taxes of citizens employed at the attraction and at businesses created by the Ark, plus sales tax collected by those businesses) will have a net positive impact for the state. If the Ark Encounter was not built-in Kentucky, those millions of dollars in potential revenue would go to another state. The Tourism Development Act offers impressive financial incentives through rebates without taking existing money out of the state’s coffers.

Hunden Strategic Partners specializes in conducting what is called a “fiscal impact analysis” as it studies a potential tourism project. An economic impact study rather than a feasibility study, the HSP analysis presented two Ark Encounter scenarios and the possible results of each: Scenario A, in which the Ark Encounter will present biblical events from the Old Testament that would exclude the creation account of origins; and Scenario B, in which the project would be similar in content to Answers in Genesis’s Creation Museum and its teachings from the first chapters of the book of Genesis. The Ark Encounter satisfies Scenario A, for it will be an attraction that starts with Noah’s Flood and then continues through the rest of the Old Testament.

 The HSP analysis noted that if the Ark Encounter follows Scenario A, then it:

  • benefits from a theme (the Bible) which has “perhaps one of the largest built-in audiences in theU.S.”; very conservatively, HSP predicts 1.2 million visitors should visit the first year.
  • could have an expected impact to the state of $119 million (e.g., from sales tax, income tax, etc.) over ten years; after the rebate is factored in, the Ark Encounter will generate an estimated $64.6 million in taxes for the state over 10 years.
  • will see (among many benefits): guests filling about 600,000 room nights per year at area hotels, see the hiring of over 3,000 people at the attraction and also at tourism-related business that will be created by the Ark Encounter, etc.

Mike Zovath, Senior Vice-President of Answers in Genesis and head of the team that built the successful Creation Museum in Boone County, further noted: “ThisArkproject will be great for Williamstown, Grant County, and Kentucky. It will bring much-needed revenue and jobs to the Commonwealth. I am satisfied with the HSP analysis because it confirms what we have believed for some time: the Ark Encounter is a viable and worthwhile project.”

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 full-size, all-woodArk.The attraction also includes a walled city, a first-century Middle Eastern village, a tower of Babel, a large petting zoo, and other attractions. A nationwide feasibility study commissioned by Answers in Genesis in 2009 estimated that the Ark Encounter could draw over 1.6 million visitors the first year.

The Ark Encounter is scheduled to open in spring 2014 on about 800 acres off I-75 in Grant County, Kentucky, south of Cincinnati, Ohio.  Groundbreaking is tentatively planned for late August 2011. The for-profit Ark Encounter will be privately funded, with an estimated cost of almost $150 million. Answers in Genesis is a member of the Ark Encounter LLC and will oversee the project.

May 18, 2011

The End Is Near!

Filed under: theology, World etc. — Steve Knaus @ 12:52 am

Harold Camping has been in recent headlines as he predicts that the world will end this Saturday: May 21, 2011.

For those who don’t get to read this post until after Saturday, my apologies. Camping was wrong.

Actually, Camping says that May 21 is the first day of Judgement. The world will not be destroyed until 5 months later. Camping arrived at these figures by combining two Bible verses and a lot of date calculations. See specific details below.

Jesus himself warns us to not predict when he will return:

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Matthew 24:36

Despite this warning, there is a long line of people in history who have attempted to predict when Jesus will return.  Camping is not alone.  So far, not one of them has been correct.

One such man in the early 1800’s was William Miller.  Miller had calculated that Jesus would return on October 22, 1844 (revised from March 22).  Several of Miller’s followers had sold their farms and stood with Miller on that night in October. That night would go down among these followers as “The Great Disappointment”.  Afterward, some of Miller’s followers revised their understanding of these events and began the movement that we now know of as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  See here for more details.

I was in college when a popular booklet was distributed, entitled, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988″.  The author, Edgar C. Whisenant, had done extensive research into arriving at the conclusion that the Rapture would occur on September 1988.  I can recall my pastor at the time critiquing Whisenant’s findings, yet commending him on his scholarship.  But Whisenant was mistaken and the rapture did not take place in 1988.

Even in our more recent past, several people believed that Jesus would return in the year 2000.  (This belief was often in conjunction with the widespread fear of Y2K computer failures).

Harold Camping himself had originally predicted that the world may end in 1994.  Once again, the passage of time has shown these people to be mistaken.

Why does Camping believe that the world will end on May 21, 2011? Camping bases his conclusions on the following premises:

  1. Amos 3:7 says that “The Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets“.  Camping takes this as a promise that God will reveal the timetable of the world’s end.
  2. In Genesis 7:4, God is commanding Noah to enter the Ark and says, “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground“.  Camping takes from this that God will destroy the world in “Seven Days” after Noah entered the Ark.
  3. 2 Peter 3:8 says that, “with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day“.  Camping combines this with the Genesis account above to conclude that the “seven days” from Genesis 7:4 really mean 7,000 years.  Therefore, he concludes that the world will be destroyed exactly 7,000 years after Noah entered the Ark.
  4. Camping has concluded “by careful study of the Bible” that the flood occurred on May 21, 4990 B.C.  Therefore, 7,000 years later will be May 21, 2011.

Camping has done a lot of calculations in order to arrive at this date.  However, he has these problems in each of the above premises:

  1. He uses Amos 3:7 to prove that God will show us his timetable.  Amos 3 is warning Israel of their pending judgement.  But God also promises that he will deliver a warning through his prophets before sending judgement to Israel — a warning that God is currently doing through Amos.  There is no basis for extending the prophecy in Amos 3 beyond the Old Testament judgement on wicked Israel.  Also, Camping is equating himself (and his followers) with the Old Testament prophets.  He makes this conclusion without any basis.
  2. He uses Genesis 7:4 to set a timetable for the end of the world, yet the context of Genesis 7 is God’s command to Noah personally.  He has a week to get himself and all the animals onto the Ark.  There is no indicator here that the “7 days” has a further meaning beyond the worldwide flood of Noah’s day.
  3. He uses 2 Peter 3:8 to translate the “7 days” above to 7,000 years.  In addition to the problem mentioned above with trying to stretch the command to Noah beyond the flood, Camping is being inconsistent with translating days into thousands of years.  For example, why translate the 7 days waiting for the rain as 7,000 years, but not translate the 40 days of rain as 40,000 years?  2 Peter is not a tool to convert timetables from days to thousands of years.  Instead, a better understanding of of 2 Peter 3  is to look at 3:8-9 and realize that God will keep his promises, even if it takes a thousand years!
  4. He says that he discovered that the flood occurred on 4990 B.C. “by careful study of the Bible”.  Unfortunately, I could not find any information to support his claims for why he has so definitively chosen 4990 B.C. (There is an option to order a free book with these details, but I fear that they will not be able to ship it if the world ends).  This date is much older than any research that I have done, and it is in conflict with other Bible scholars who date the flood at approximately 2304 B.C.  See the link here for specific details on 2304 B.C.

You can see the full details on Camping’s treatise here.

What are the consequences of making predictions like this?  Unfortunately, there are two groups that are hurt by false predictions:

The first group is Camping’s followers.  Like William Miller in the 1800’s, false predictions can leave a trail of disillusioned followers.  Many of these people have contributed greatly to his cause, selling property and contributing to help spread his message.  These people have put their credibility on the line for a belief without a solid basis.  Like Miller’s followers in the 1800’s, this disillusionment can be fertile ground for new false teachings.

The second group that is hurt are those who are lost.  The mockery of a Christian leader grows as the word spreads about this prediction. Christians lose their credibility and the lost have one more obstacle in their way before they will listen to the truth about Jesus.  Regardless of attitudes, we need to pray for those around us.

What should we do?

The best advice comes from reading the rest of 2 Peter 3:

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Wait for Christ’s Return!

Be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and be at peace!

Don’t be carried away by the error of false teaching!

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Jesus can come today, tomorrow, Saturday, or any day after that!  Until he returns!

May 17, 2011

Turn it on again

Filed under: culture, entertainment — Anthony Biller @ 6:30 pm

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate something in which you’re completely immersed .  It may be trite but nonetheless true, a fish might not realize it’s wet.  I would suspect that to someone born and raised in North Korea, totalitarianism “feels” normal.  When an entire society is immersed and accepts something as a given, often that something avoids rigorous scrutiny. 

Television is ubiquitous, or to define it more broadly, electronic visual stimulation is everywhere and largely accepted.  From movies, to television, to video games, to the Internet and our PDAs, we’re increasingly becoming e-stimulation junkies.  Television and its progeny replace our needs and desires for meaningful thought, social engagements, civil duties and the critical thinking that should be attendant to each.  Our electronic cocoons become a cultural religion. Our entertainment binds us more than our religion, politics, or even our business needs.  The stimulation of visual entertainment has increasingly become an end unto itself, a consuming end.  As a result, each year we consume an ever-increasing amount of “screen time.”  See here.

In the April 18 edition of National Review, Ben Berger presents a cogent case that television and its kin may be the primary agent eating away at our social and political fabric.  Could it be that screen time eats Republics as well as grey matter?  Is electronic stimulation on such a scale of consumption a giant, mental parasite?   Could television be a primary agent in what so many of us recognize as fundamental societal decline? 

Television makes us fat, lazy, inattentive, unsociable, mistrustful, materialistic — and unhappy about all of that. It cheapens political discourse, weakens family ties, prevents face-to-face socializing, and exposes kids to sex and inures them to violence. Yet Americans can’t get enough. In 1950, just 9 percent of U.S. households owned a television; by 1960 it was 90 percent, and by the year 2000 TVs were just about everywhere. Now the average U.S. household has more TVs than people. 

Please read the rest at Ben Berger’s Tocqueville And the Tube

May 13, 2011

Did “superbug” Staphylococcus sciuri “evolve”?

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 10:44 am

See Dr. Georgia Purdom’s Bacteria Keep “Outsmarting” Antibiotics

May 11, 2011

“Reembrace American Exceptionalism” – Ryan

Filed under: politics, economy, etc., video — Anthony Biller @ 8:13 pm

 

May 10, 2011

Jacob’s Wives

Filed under: encouragement, humor, video — Anthony Biller @ 1:16 pm

From Dima Kotik  at Truthonly.com and friends, a modern adaptation on the history of Jacob, Rachel, and Leah:

For an insightful, interesting and serious commentary on the same story, see Richard S. Strauss’ Never Satisfied! – The Story of Jacob and Rachel.

May 9, 2011

Public Education Failure

Filed under: culture, homeschooling — Anthony Biller @ 3:52 pm

Nearly half the citizens of Detroit are functionally illiterate. See here. The City itself had a population of over 700,000 in 2010, with over 4 million people in the metropolitan area.  The metropolitan areas are slightly less-worse:  34 percent in Pontiac and 24 percent in Southfield reported as functionally illiterate.  Note from the linked article, Detroit’s functional illiteracy rate is only slightly higher than Washington DC and Cleveland.  In 2008, DC was spending over $25,000 per child for education.  These cities have been hardcore Democrat party controlled areas for over a century.  The teacher unions run the school systems unchecked.  More proof that the public school system as designed, run, and funded by the left does not work. 

The government does a few things well but not, however, running schools or businesses (or planning economies). Education is best done by families and/or private enterprise with close parental involvement.  The best thing most parents can do for their children’s primary education is to get the government out of their school room, get themselves involved, and put God back in the curriculum.

May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer

Filed under: encouragement — Anthony Biller @ 11:06 am

The mission of today’s National Day of Prayer is “to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.” http://nationaldayofprayer.org/

Please pray:

  • for our nation in regard to the fight against terrorism and also for the safety of our military worldwide.
  • that America would return to the authority of the Bible, especially as the nation deals with issues like “gay” marriage, abortion, stem-cell research, etc.
  • for guidance and wisdom for churches and ministries nationwide, and that God will bless our churches as they proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and seek to bring about reformation and repentance.  
  • for the persecuted church worldwide. For example, the Chinese government continues to crack down on Christians, including the recent arrest of 47 believers (in broad daylight) at an unregistered Beijing church; other members of this church have lost their jobs. Pray that Christians in China will be able to exercise religious freedom.
  • for each of us to submit to God and be transformed to the likeness of Christ in our daily lives.

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