Sapphire Sky

February 27, 2012

Cannons

Filed under: praise, video — Steve Knaus @ 10:39 am

You are holy
Great and Mighty
The moon and the stars
Declare who you are

I’m so unworthy
but still you love me
Forever my heart
Will sing of how great you are

 

Thanks to Phil Wickham for penning these words and putting it to music.

Thanks to God for giving us the universe to show how great he is!

 

February 25, 2012

Marriage Sunday – Please Pray

Filed under: marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 8:39 pm

From Alan Sears at the Alliance Defense Fund:

As I am sure you are aware, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling in Perry v. Brown, the federal challenge to California’s marriage protection amendment.  To the surprise of none of us here at the Alliance Defense Fund, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the most overturned federal appeals judge in America, wrote an opinion striking down the expressed will of over 7 million Californians who voted to define marriage as only the union of one man and one woman.
 
Of course, this case is far from over.  This is one setback in a struggle which we will tirelessly fight – all the way to the United States Supreme Court, if necessary.
 
The future for marriage, both in California and the nation, is far from decided by the events at the Ninth Circuit, and what is occurring in California is just another battle in the ongoing war over marriage.  Nevertheless, the need for prayer has never been more urgent, for without Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).
… 
We are encouraging this Sunday, February 26th to be a day for all believers, to pray for marriage – that marriages across our land will be strengthened, and that God’s design for marriage be upheld and honored.  The document here is a prayer guide that we would encourage you to use, and pass along to others to inform them about this special day.
 
Would you please consider sharing this with your pastor, Bible study, friends and family – so that as many believers as possible will know, and participate, in this day of unified, focused prayer? You can also encourage them to visit www.TellADF.org/marriage to find out more.
 
Thank you for all you do to honor the Lord in your personal and professional life. May God continue to give us all more of His grace and blessing, as we endeavor to faithfully follow Him toward victory.
 
With sincere appreciation and best regards.
 
Yours for religious freedom in America,
Alan E. Sears
In addition to praying for the institution of marriage in our country, we should be praying for our own marriages and for our spouses.

February 21, 2012

The Power of the Cross – One of the Best Songs of the Past Ten Years

Filed under: entertainment, music, praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 9:36 pm

The Getty’s are simply divine songwriters and performers.  I could listen to them all day …

February 19, 2012

From the tears of a precocious peasant child who loved Jesus …

Filed under: books, encouragement, Ministry — Anthony Biller @ 8:17 pm

And thus we see in this life that God has need of the high and the lowly, the great and the small, the gold and the baser metal; and out of all, and through all, and in all, He works His wondrous way, and permits His Creatures to join, as it were, with Him in the turning of the world from darkness to His marvelous light.  Mary E. Ropes, Mary Jones and Her Bible (1882)

Little Welsh Mary Jones was dirt poor.  She loved Christ from the earliest age and studied God’s word from a neighboring farmer’s Bible.  Welsh Bibles were exceedingly rare and hard to come by.  This intelligent and precocious girl was determined to one day have her own Bible.  She worked and saved, and after six years finally had enough to purchase her own.  She walked barefoot from her village at the foot of  Cader IdrisLlanfihangel-y-pennant to  Bala – 25 miles away to buy one from the renowned Pastor Thomas Charles.  He did not have one to give her.  Her immediate tears and obvious devotion inspired the creation of the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1804.  That organization and its spin-offs have distributed millions of Bible and conducted thousands of translations in the past two centuries.

Although he didn’t have one to give her, Mary’s tears melted Pastor Charles and he nonetheless found someone else’s Bible to give the girl.  Mary Jones’ story is an inspiring read and insight into the not terribly distant past.  Thanks to Mark Hamby and Lamplighter publishing, the book is in print and available: Mary Jones and Her Bible.

From the Bible Society’s website:

The need we address
Bible Society exists because millions lack the Bible in a language they can understand, in a form they can use or at a price they can afford. At the same time millions still have no understanding of the Bible’s value for them and their communities.

We call this Bible poverty.

The vision we have
We are working to see a day when the Bible’s God-given revelation, inspiration and wisdom is shaping the lives and communities of people everywhere.

Our task is urgent. This is because of what people, communities and nations lose when the Bible’s life-changing message is not theirs.

Our task is huge:

  • More than 4,400 languages still wait for even one book of the Bible.
  • Though a billion people can’t read, only 3 per cent of languages have the Bible in audio.
  • Every 5 seconds, someone goes blind but the complete Braille Bible exists in only 35 languages.
  • In our own country the Bible is no longer a point of reference for everyday life.
  • Christians often lack the confidence to apply the Bible’s message in a society that increasingly sees it as irrelevant.

Mary Jones died in 1864 and was buried at the graveyard of Bryn-crug Calvinistic Methodist Chapel. The Bible, she walked 25 miles to buy, is now stored in the Bible Society’s archives in Cambridge University Library.

February 18, 2012

Answers in Genesis Announces Properties Purchased for Ark Encounter Park

Filed under: entertainment, Ministry — Anthony Biller @ 2:32 pm

Answers in Genesis made the following announcement this past week about completing the necessary real estate purchases for the Ark Encounter Park and that the ministry has received over $ 5 million in donations for the park, to date.  In addition, the ArkEncounter.com website re-design was also rolled out this week.  Keep praying that we’re able to complete and open this park soon!

Final Piece of Land for Full-size Ark Purchased

Petersburg, Ky., Feb. 15, 2012—Passing another significant milestone, the Ark Encounter, LLC, closed today on the last and largest piece of land for its planned development on an 800-acre site in Williamstown, Ky., off Interstate 75 (south of Cincinnati). Under the direction of Answers in Genesis (AiG), a full-scale Noah’s Ark will be constructed as the featured attraction at the Ark Encounter. Research indicates the Ark Encounter will draw well over a million people in its first year.

In addition, the completion of complex engineering and architectural work on the Ark structure has allowed for significantly greater guest capacity inside the Ark than originally anticipated. This finding has eliminated the need to build additional biblical attractions simultaneously to accommodate the projected crowds.

Accordingly, the Ark Encounter will be built in multiple phases over many years, with the Ark and other supporting elements opening during phase one. This approach will reduce the initial construction period and funding requirements. It will also allow the utility infrastructure to be able to grow with the Ark Encounter’s expansions at a reasonable pace. Phased-in construction is also a safe way to proceed in a difficult economy. Even then, over $5 million in donations have already been received for the building of the Ark itself. In addition to that milestone, many more millions of dollars in memberships and private funding have been raised or committed for the construction of the other attractions surrounding the Ark, the centerpiece of the project.

Michael Zovath, Senior Vice President of Answers in Genesis and the Ark Encounter, declared he was “elated to cross two milestones this week in the Ark’s progress.” Zovath, who was in charge of building AiG’s successful, high-tech Creation Museum, noted that “due to the rolling hills and ravines of this scenic property, about 800 acres are needed in order to get at least 160 useable acres—plus create a necessary buffer around the Ark Encounter attraction. It has taken considerable, but necessary, time to close on all the different parcels, and there have been environmental studies that took time to perform on parts of the land, but all the needed acreage has been purchased.”

Additional updates on the Ark Encounter include the following:

  • The worldwide media coverage of the full-size Noah’s Ark has exceeded expectations, including a news item on ABC-TV’s “World News with Diane Sawyer.” With some exceptions, the mainstream media have generally been fair and accurate.
  • With the Creation Museum successfully drawing over 300,000 visitors a year, AiG is already master-planning the museum complex in Petersburg, Ky. (40 miles from the Ark site) to handle even larger crowds when the Ark opens. A 1,000-seat auditorium has been finished, as has a new observatory with high-power telescopes.
  • AiG continues to be encouraged to see that even in a difficult economy, thousands of supportive people have already made donations to the full-size Ark (including through the “Pegs, Planks, and Beams” sponsorship program) or have purchased boarding passes (lifetime Ark memberships). Now that the land has been secured, AiG—as more revenue is received—has the next milestone in its sights for the ambitious project: groundbreaking.

Donations to AiG for the Ark structure itself are just one aspect of the entire Ark Encounter funding. The major part of the funding is coming through private funding from the Ark Encounter, LLC, a Missouri limited liability company, which will own the attraction. Through a wholly owned subsidiary, AiG is the managing member of the LLC and is raising a portion of the funding (i.e., to build the Ark component).

“The Ark Encounter, LLC, and AiG continue to trust the Creator of the Universe to supply the needed funds for this project, just as He did with our successful Creation Museum, even with some bumps along the way in its construction,” said co-founder and CCO Mark Looy. “The museum’s attendance has exceeded projections since it opened in May 2007, and it has been a major economic asset to the region. Moreover, with an Ark coming to the region, it is anticipated the Creation Museum’s best days for attendance are ahead of it.”

Answers in Genesis is a biblical apologetics ministry which conducts about 300 teaching meetings each year, publishes the growing family magazine “Answers” (winner of the 2011 best Christian magazine award from the Evangelical Press Association), and produces the “Answers” radio program heard on more than 500 stations in the U.S. The AnswersInGenesis.org website is this year’s “Best Ministry Website” as picked by the 1,200-member National Religious Broadcasters (about 1 million web visits a month). AiG’s Creation Museum, which opened in 2007 to much international press coverage, has welcomed over 1.5 million visitors in four and one-half years.

Uncle Sam Candy Man

Filed under: politics, economy, etc., video — Anthony Biller @ 10:21 am

February 17, 2012

Taxpayer-Funded Idiocy For Further Destroying US Jobs

Filed under: politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 10:22 pm

President Clinton’s former cabinet member, now professor, Robert Reich hosts a regular “Market Place” commentary on National Public Radio.  (Yet another unfortunate use of my tax dollars.)  He recently explained to the audience that federal oversight and expenditures were essential for returning quality jobs to the United States.

Reich claimed that American business cannot lead the way to economic recovery because businesses are globally focused, not US focused.  Reich explained that their objective is profit, not jobs.  Businesses are cutting jobs.  CEOs are beholden to shareholders, not employees.  Apple employs eight times more employees overseas than they do here.  Reich stated that all of “Asia” now spends more on R&D than does the USA, however, US firms have doubled their R&D investments in China.  Finally, Reich claimed that too many workers are not competitive in the global marketplace.  In short, Reich blamed, decaying schools, not enough R&D, and suffering infrastructure.  Reich finished with a rhetorical flourish, claiming that businesses petition DC for less taxes and regulations, however, no one in America is petitioning for Americans.

What drivel. I thought Americans owned and operated American businesses.  More importantly, more and more federal government is why we have less and less of a manufacturing and high skilled production (or even trade skill production) in the US.

Businesses are screaming to Washington why they’re leaving, but their explanations only make for the chattering class’s rhetorical fodder. In dissecting the collapsing manufacturing and production capacity of the US, Reich ignores the giant white elephant, just like most the rest of his ilk on the political and journalistic ilk.  This despite the fact businesses are pleading with our elected federal officials to remedy the cause for US companies fleeing.  When producing for a global marketplace, the US is one of the least attractive countries in which to manufacture, primarily for two reasons: high taxes and a byzantine network of onerous federal regulations.

Our spending on education is not the problem.  Researchers at USC report that although the US significantly outspends leading industrial nations on education expenditures, we lag toward last place on math and science competency results.  See here and graph below.  The OCLC reported,

The United States spent the most on education in 2001 at roughly $500 billion, followed by Japan, Germany and France at $139 billion, $89 billion and $82 billion respectively. While the U.S. spent the most in absolute dollars, it ranked tenth in education spending as a percent of GDP at 4.8 percent.

See full article here.  As of 2008, we are spending on average over $10,000 per student per year on primary school education.  See here.  We spend close to 5% of our gross national income on education; the Chinese spend less than 2%.  See here.  While we spend close to $15,000 per student, China spends a little more than one-tenth that amount according to the OECD:

In 2008, China spends USD 1 593 per student from primary to tertiary education – the lowest amount of annual expenditure per student among the countries surveyed. In comparison, Brazil spends USD 2 416, Argentina spends USD 3 204 and the Russian Federation spends USD 4 878, all far below the average for OECD countries (USD 8 831) or for EU21 countries (USD 8 702). These figures relate to public institutions only. At the other end of the spectrum, the United States spends USD 14 923 and Switzerland USD 14 977 on public institutions

The Heritage Foundation conducted a study demonstrating that spending on education has increased dramatically over the past several decades in the United States as compared to our historical trends, however, this has not led to similarly improved student performance.  See full report here.

In contrast, the United States competes with Japan for the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world – approaching 40%.  The corporate tax rate on technology companies in China: 15% .

There are approximately 50 federal agencies that regulate every aspect of existence in this country, particularly nearly all aspects of commercial activity.  The laws from these unelected agencies are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations (“CFR”) over 51 titles.  At last printing, the federal regulations ran 200,000 pages.  That’s separate and apart from the thousands of pages of federal statutory law and separate and apart from State statutes and regulation. The US tax code (Title 26) alone is reported to take up over 2,500 pages containing over 5 million words.  It takes hundreds of thousands of highly educated and trained corporate attorneys and accountants for businesses to comply with just the tax code.

The federal register in 2010 (where presidential orders, official agency actions, and new and proposed federal regulations are published) hit over 81,000 pages in 2010.  Think about what that means.  Incidentally, that wasn’t a record.  President Carter’s executive branch published 83,000 pages in his final term.  See here.

Exceedingly high taxes and more regulations than any people in the history of humanity – that’s why businesses are fleeing.  Not surprisingly, those that make their living promulgating, lobbying, and enforcing these laws and earning their living off those tax receipts don’t see it that way.  The problem is those greedy companies, according to taxpayer-funded Reich on his taxpayer-funded radio station.

If you want to see real jobs – high technology manufacturing jobs in the USA – it will take time.  If you want to see those cool Apple products built-in the USA again, our tax and regulate culture must change.  Lower the corporate tax rate to a simple 15%, or lower, abolish capitol gains tax, and take an ax to the impenetrable (and grossly unconstitutional) regulatory regime that employs hundreds of thousands of attorneys, lobbyists, accountants, and bureaucrats, but stifles US business and meaningful job creation.  Our federal leviathan could live on more modest means if we had the courage to scale the beast back to something at least faintly resembling our Constitutional parameters.

Compare this incredible legal burden to what businesses in China have to deal with.  Not only is there no such overbearing government intrusion into every nook and cranny of your business, there are no unions, no patent trolls, no regular stream of largely frivolous  lawsuits from your workers and anyone else who might be disguntled, there is effectively no army of administrative overlords.  Is it a panacea there?  Hardly.  But it’s far easier to do business there and in most places of the world not located in Europe.

Oh yeah, don’t forget the substantially lower taxes, per above.  Would you prefer to keep 80% or 85% of your earnings, or 50% to 60%?

Companies worldwide would once again seek to open business here if we leveled the playing field.  Americans are still the hardest working, cohesive, and spirited work force in the world.  We work, pray, and play hard.  We practically invented the middle class.  We still have the best infrastructure and are richly blessed with natural resources.  We’ve invented the lions share of the greatest technology of the past century.  Moreover, investors worldwide will look to invest here if the government doesn’t gouge their returns.  Substantially less federal intervention, the opposite of what taxpayer-funded Reich claims, will lead to a robust job and technology growth for another generation. Real jobs, not baristas and mowing each other’s lawns.

image from the MAT@USC University of Southern California

February 14, 2012

A Legend of Love

Filed under: Uncategorized — Anthony Biller @ 9:37 am

Is a good day to remember The Legend of Valentine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Ode to a dog

Filed under: humor, video — Tags: — Steve Knaus @ 12:06 am

We welcome Lila as the new dog in our family. This was the inspiration for her name:

February 3, 2012

Monitoring Christian Science

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., video — Anthony Biller @ 11:42 am

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