Sapphire Sky

December 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Steve Knaus @ 2:37 pm

This is a time to refocus on goals that I had set in a recent year.

Sapphire Sky

This is the time of the year when we tend to take stock of ourselves and our lives.  We often make promises on things that we try to improve – many of which we never complete.

In the early 1700’s, Jonathan Edwards compiled a list of 70 resolutions. While we may review our resolutions every year, Edwards committed to reviewing his resolutions every week! You can read Edwards’ complete list here.

Instead of making yet another annual list of promises that I cannot keep, here is my list of resolutions for this year and following:

1. Resolved to seek Christ as the top priority in my life.

All other priorities must take a secondary role after Christ.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

2. Resolved to developing spiritual growth in myself, my family, and…

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December 27, 2012

77 Non-religious Reasons to Celebrate Man/Woman Marriage

Filed under: culture, marriage and family, video — Anthony Biller @ 7:19 pm

The fact the Bible establishes marriage and establishes it between one man and one woman is compelling (and controlling) for Christians.  For those that do not believe in the truth of the Bible, here’s info on an excellent compilation of “secular” reasons for man-woman marriage:

December 24, 2012

Filed under: praise, theology, Uncategorized — Anthony Biller @ 8:34 am

The greatest miracle … Merry Christmas!

Sapphire Sky

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.  John 1:10

The infinite and awesome creator of the cosmos took the form of his own creation and subjected himself to the laws of time and death, to save those who rebelled against him.  God’s voluntary subjection to the rebellious brutality of His creation demonstrates the degree to which God hates original sin – pride and conceit.  He did not take the form of an invincible champion to subdue this treacherous and wicked world.  He did not condescend in regal majesty to awe mankind.  Although a tiny nation of chosen people anticipated his arrival, he did not arrive as a heralded conqueror.

Jesus came in the middle of the night as a helpless child.  To the world, God was born a poor child, not in a palace, but in a…

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December 22, 2012

Off the Amazon: 2.5 million reasons to shop Walmart.com, and elsewhere

Filed under: books, culture, politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 10:30 am

Be holy in all your behavior.  1 Peter 1:15

Every action contributes to culture.  While we passionately and deliberately vote every few years, the accumulation of our thousands of smaller actions ultimately contribute more to shape our culture and our country.  Our economic actions have far greater impact on our culture than does our biannual votes.  And the results of those actions?  In general, conservatives are losing American culture.  Related, although I don’t know whether Christians had ever “won” American culture, cultural respect for and deference to Judeo-Christian morality wanes in the U.S. While diligent in how we vote, Christians and conservatives, myself included, have been far less conscientious in our daily purchasing decisions than we have been in our infrequent political votes.

To promote his apparently strong beliefs favoring gay marriage, Amazon.com boss Jeff Bezos donated $2.5 million dollars to promote gay marriage in his State of Washington.  Hurrah for Bezos coming out strongly in support of his beliefs.  I have strong beliefs also, premised in God’s revealed word, as taught in the Bible. Those beliefs clearly teach that homosexuality is wrong.  The fact that two men feel strongly and passionately for each other no more make it moral than when a man feels strongly and passionately for a woman other than his wife.

I’ve been a loyal fan of Amazon.com for nearly 15 years.  I remember buying a book from Amazon.com in 1998 from my dial-up modem and thinking “how cool is that!” … For the last five years, at least, we’ve purchased “Prime” memberships and did most of our Christmas shopping online through Amazon.com.  No more.

While I support Mr. Bezos’ right to spend his money in support of his beliefs, I’m not going to spend my money to further his profits, which he uses to undermine Biblical values in our laws and culture. I have not purchased anything on Amazon since I learned of Mr. Bezos’ efforts in support of gay marriage.  With disappointment, we did not renew our Prime membership. It’s been over a month now, and not only has it not been difficult, I’ve found more cost-effective websites from which to make my online purchase.  I’ve been particularly pleased with Walmart.com where the books are often several dollars less than at Amazon.com, the shipping is less (though no “Prime” type membership, yet), and you can have items delivered for free to your local Walmart store for pick up.

Best “general” online store: http://www.walmart.com

Best online bookstore, used and new: http://www.bookdepository.com

Best sites to purchase Christian stuff like books, movies, toys, apologetics, and generally Christ-centered, counterculture merchandise:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/store
http://www.visionforum.com
http://www.christianbook.com
http://store.lamplighter.net/storefront.aspx

Happy Shopping!

December 20, 2012

Something More

Filed under: praise, video — Anthony Biller @ 9:26 pm

December 18, 2012

Hobbit or Ranger?

Filed under: culture, encouragement, entertainment, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 11:44 pm

Is Your Family a Group of Hobbits or a Group of Rangers?

Wednesday, Aug 11th 2010

By David French

Lord of the Rings begins in the bucolic, family-focused good earth of the Shire, where generations of hobbits live the fantasy world version of the “balanced life.” They till the earth. They lift a pint with good friends. They live in family homes (holes, really) passed from generation to generation. But the Shire can’t actually exist without another group of people — a group that Shire-folk look at with suspicion and mistrust: The rangers.

Rangers (like Aragorn) hang out at the borders of the Shire, visiting only occasionally, and spending their time keeping all the nasty things at bay. They battle the orcs and trolls continually, fighting to keep the Shire oh so very Shire-ish. And they do it without any real thanks because it’s the right thing to do and because they want the world to be the kind of place that is safe enough, prosperous enough, to contain a Shire.

I think I offended a group of very fine, upstanding law students.

One week ago, I was speaking to a group of students about life in the “big law firm,” and I told them that one of their responsibilities was to “work like a rabid dog.”  (I don’t know if rabid dogs are particularly hard working, but I like the image of a snarling, foaming-at-the-mouth young lawyer restrained from attacking the next pile of documents only by the chain on his ankle).  Then I told them that they should not be “that guy” or “that girl” who leaves their colleagues at a critical moment because their kid’s soccer game is just So. Darn. Important.  “That guy” makes people like me miss OUR kids’ games to make up for their lost work.  “You’re in a community,” I said, “A community made up of your fellow lawyers, paralegals, and the secretaries, and you have responsibilities to that community just as you do to your next-door neighbor, to your fellow church members, or to any other part of the world.”

I didn’t stop there.  “Lawyers work hard.  They just do.  There’s no magic bullet for the balanced lifestyle — whatever a balanced lifestyle means — instead, make sure your spouse and children are on the same page with you, that you’re united in your family’s collective and individual callings, and that you support each other as you confront the financial world, or any other part of the world you engage.”

From the looks on their faces and from the reaction of some students afterward, you would have thought I had placed a pile of kittens in a blender and hit “puree” . . . right in front of them.  The comments came flying in.

“Are you really saying that more time with your kids isn’t good?”

“Shouldn’t we all be ‘that guy,’ and isn’t it your fault that you’re willing to stay late?”

“Look, I’ll stay 10 or 15 minutes late to wrap things up, but I’m just not going to sacrifice my family by working late.”   (I wished him good luck with that philosophy and told him I’d never hire him).

“My family is more important than anything, and I’m not going to work any more than eight or nine until five.”  (I told this fellow that “Wal-Mart is hiring.”)

In fact, the comments haven’t stopped.  I’m still getting blowback from the talk, a full week later.  Someone said that I was “mean.”

And they’re right.  I am mean.  But that’s beside the point.  I may be mean, but I’m right . . . I’m factually right, and — more importantly — I’m morally right.  In at least one limited but vitally important sense.

Nothing world-changing has happened within the limited confines of the nine-to-five work week.  Nobody can wake up in the morning and say, “I’m dedicating myself and my family to my fellow man, but only so long as I keep exactly the kind of balance that would make my therapist proud.”  Eight hours per day can help make one happy (maybe), but is happiness the point?  Do we even know in any given day, week, or month what will make us happy over the medium to long term?  We think we do, but I know many, many people who get exactly what they want . . . and then find out it wasn’t as great as they thought it would be.

I don’t think so much of happiness as I think of purpose.  My purpose.  My wife’s purpose.  My kids’ purpose.  Our purpose.  If I may geek out a bit, let me draw analogy from Lord of the Rings.  If you recall (and you should), the story begins in the bucolic, family-focused good earth of the Shire, where generations of hobbits live the fantasy world version of the “balanced life.”  They till the earth.  They lift a pint with good friends.  They live in family homes (holes, really) passed from generation to generation.  But the Shire can’t actually exist without another group of people — a group that Shire-folk look at with suspicion and mistrust: The rangers.  Rangers (like Aragorn) hang out at the borders of the Shire, visiting only occasionally, and spending their time keeping all the nasty things at bay.  They battle the orcs and trolls continually, fighting to keep the Shire oh so very Shire-ish. And they do it without any real thanks because it’s the right thing to do and because they want the world to be the kind of place that is safe enough, prosperous enough, to contain a Shire.

To put things more clearly, I think every family has to ultimately ask itself: Are we rangers or hobbits?  It really is a family decision, by the way.  If a wife wants to live in Hobbiton and the husband heads out to the wild lands, resentment builds in both directions, children feel abandoned without higher purpose, and marriages dissolve in acrimony and bitterness.  Stay in the shire until the parents are unified in heart and mind and willing to take on the wild.

Of course, the obvious analogy is the “Shire” of America defended by the rangers (like the literal Rangers in the United States Army) abroad by the terrorists and radicals who seek to kill us all.  But our culture lives or dies, prospers or withers, on the basis of much more than force of arms.  Liberty at home depends on the courage and perseverance of a small army of police officers, lawyers, and civil rights activists. Economic hope and prosperity depends on entrepreneurs willing to invest their life’s savings, their dreams, and all their energies into new businesses.  Even the much-maligned financiers provide capital that makes virtually any economic project of any consequence possible.  For every employee drawing sharp lines at 5:00 p.m. there’s a boss or owner who has sacrificed much to create such an idyllic job.

In the past three years, I have spent more than 500 days away from home.  More than 300 of those occurred on my deployment to Iraq, but the first full year that I was home, I traveled more than 100 additional days on business.  In my civilian life, I’m a free speech and religious liberties lawyer, and liberty is often under attack here at home.  I travel too much, and I’m trying to cut back, but there’s also work to be done.

At the same time, however, I’m blessed to have a wife who loves and supports me through all (well, ninety-five percent) of my travel.  I’m blessed to have children who understand that “Daddy’s gone” because there are some things that are more important than ourselves, some things are worth fighting for.  And I think they might even be a little proud of me.  In short, Nancy and I made a decision many years ago that we’d be a family of rangers . . . dedicated to defending the Shire.

As a ranger, I’m not much count.  I was a very small cog in a very big machine in Iraq.  I labor hard on my cases and try to achieve justice, but it’s a big world out there, and so far my efforts haven’t reached nearly as many people as the efforts of fellow SixSeeds contributors like Tom “Saving Hundreds of Thousands of Lives in Africa” Walsh or Nathan “Inspiring Millions With My Books” Whitaker.  And our family’s sacrifice is simply insignificant compared to the ultimate sacrifice made by men I knew and loved in Iraq.  We do what we can do, however, and we do it with a common purpose.

When I speak to students, I know that most of them are hobbits, either by choice or destiny.  Their lives and purpose will be defined within the four walls of their house, and their thoughts will be dominated by hearth and home.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that, and there is a lot to love and admire about such a lifestyle.  I want to live in a world that has room for a Shire, and I wish the Shire were larger, so more people could enjoy its bounty.  But folks in the Shire need to understand that the life they live wasn’t created by their own virtue and that they are ultimately consumers of the liberty, prosperity, and security provided them at immense cost by the blood, sweat, and tears of others.  So enjoy your kid’s soccer game and your five o’clock departure from work, but know that your liberty was bought with blood, your security is maintained with blood, and the degree of prosperity you have is largely created by the generations of risk-takers and hard workers that came before you as well as the boss or owner who works beside you.

As for my wife and me, we thank you for making the Shire such a nice and hospitable place to visit.  But we can’t stay for long . . . there’s orcs on the borders.

Ranger

December 16, 2012

Decorations

Filed under: Poem — Anthony Biller @ 6:20 pm

Decorations
by Luke Biller

Dazzling star on top of a tree
Eating delicious cookies
Children laughing
Ornaments being hung
Round bulbs
Amazing Nutcrackers standing proudly at attention
Tangled lights
Incredible music
Outside snow is falling
Nestling by the fire
Sugar plum visions

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