Sapphire Sky

April 26, 2013

Education 2020 – less academic trash?

Filed under: Atheism, agnostic, evolution, etc., culture, technology, video — Anthony Biller @ 12:11 pm
Technological solutions for removing garbage

Technological solutions for removing garbage

“College” may be transforming now as quickly as Apple transformed how we buy and listen to music last decade …

While Ivy League “students” learn how to perfect their perversions with porn stars, UNC Tar Hell students spend NC tax dollars on orgasm clinics, and Big 10 Professors feature after-class/in-class live sex shows, the “fix” may already be in the works.  Dazzled by big collegiate names, sterling sports reputations and a host of beneficial science and engineering research, too many are oblivious to or apathetic about the morally decrepit and intellectually flaccid state of most humanities departments within our universities.

We may not need to reform those departments, they may simply go away for being obsolete.  Why pay tens of thousands of dollars in (often tax subsidized) tuition and room and board for what can be obtained for free.  Or so we can hope.  Like so many problems that plagued humanity for ages, technological innovation may pave for real change — near universal accessibility for little to no cost, international exposure to content, and the power of social media/leveraging to filter and elevate quality content.  The following video explains not just how this might happen, but how it is presently turning into reality:

April 21, 2013

Equipping God’s People

Filed under: marriage and family, Ministry, praise — Anthony Biller @ 10:00 pm

Psalm 19:7-9

The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.

We restarted a family integrated Bible study at our church recently, which is fancy speak for a Bible study where everyone is invited – newborns to grandparents.

Andy Wilson teaches Luke about Hebrews 4:12

Andy Wilson teaches Luke about Hebrews 4:12

The class is committed to equipping and encouraging our families to study the Bible together.  We use the Answers Bible Curriculum (“ABC” for short) published by Answers in Genesis.  ABC is a comprehensive curriculum designed to cover the entire Bible.  AiG explains:

Synchronized Sunday school for all ages!

Answers Bible Curriculum is a full-featured, chronological, 3-year Sunday school program. Its 156 lessons are synchronized across 7 age groups from preschool to adults. Each group covers Genesis through Revelation and learns the same material—but at different levels of depth—empowering exciting and easy discussion for the entire family.

The curriculum teaches both what the Bible says and also why we can believe it’s true and how to read it.  In the first few lessons, the family is taught the meaning of inductive Bible studies, the foundational nature of scripture, how to distinguish between exegesis and eisegesis, and fundamental apologetics regarding the truth of scripture.  Great content and all scripture based.

The curriculum is designed for churches, ie student guides, teaching materials and devotionals are organized by age.  AiG is working on but has not yet released a family integrated curriculum; they have, however, released a family weekly devotional that tracks the lessons.  For our class sessions, our leader Andy Wilson reviews the various age group lessons and merges them into a single class designed for all ages.

Perhaps most importantly, it has helped us improve our biblical discipleship within our family.  We engage the same issues together as a family and have detailed study guides to reference and guide us in the Word.  It has already become much easier for my wife and I to disciple our children on important issues of our Christian faith. Praise God!

April 14, 2013

What did Christ finish?

Filed under: encouragement, praise, theology — Anthony Biller @ 9:09 pm

Easter 2013 Message

by Pastor Stephen Daveystaff_davey_smile

John 19:30

There is nothing quite so profound as a person’s final words; especially when that person is aware that they are about to die.

Lady Astor was the first female member of the British House of Commons who used to tangle often with Winston Churchill. She was the woman in that famous conversation where she upbraided Churchill saying that if she were his wife, she’d poison his drink. To which Churchill famously responded, “And if I were your husband, I would drink it.” As she lay on her deathbed at the age of 85, she awakened to find her bed surrounded by her entire family. She grinned and said, “Either I am dying, or this is my birthday.”i

Frank Sinatra’s last words were spoken to his fourth wife – he simply looked up at her and said, “I’m losing” – and then died.ii

Queen Elizabeth I brought England to its greatest world power; literature, education, fashion and glamour flourished under her 40 year reign which ended in the 17th century. As she lay dying, she gasped her final words, “All my possessions for a moment of time.”iii

John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln, was finally chased down and trapped in a barn. As soldiers set fire to the barn, Booth was spotted and fatally wounded. After they pulled him out of the barn and away from the fire, Booth lay there with moments to live – he held up his hands and said, “Useless . . . useless.”iv

O. Henry, the famous short story writer and outspoken unbeliever said just before he died, “Turn up the lights – I don’t want to go . . . in the dark.”v

Contrast that to the last words of Charles Spurgeon, the London pastor from the 1800’s who died with these words on his lips – Jesus died for me.

And in His dying breath, Jesus Christ will say just a few words – so profound that believers have read them and studied them and have been nourished by them and strengthened and ready to face life and death because of them.

Why? Because they were words that played out the glory of the gospel in living color – first, with words of agony and separation and suffering, but finally – as he spoke for the last time – words of victory and satisfaction.

We have time for one of Christ’s seven final words or statements – let me invite you to the Gospel of John and chapter 19. Verse 28. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” 29. A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. 30. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

If you compare the Gospel accounts, you discover seven things Jesus said during his crucifixion.Rembrandt TheThreeCrosses 1653

We’ll take time for this statement here in verse 30.

The ancient Greeks were proud of the fact that their universal language was able to communicate so much with so few words.

“To be able to give,” as one wrote “an ocean of matter in one drop of language.”vi

It is finished is only one word in the Greek language – tetelestai – one evangelical author wrote that this is the greatest single word ever uttered.vii

In this one word is wrapped up the Gospel of God.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to be right with God – how to know you’re sins are forgiven – how to know that you can have heaven, guaranteed – it’s bound up in this one word.

It is finished.

And by the way, would you notice that Jesus did not say, “I am finished”, even though in less than 60 seconds he would.

He didn’t say, “I am finished,” but, “It is finished.”

Which is remarkable on a number of fronts, isn’t it?

How often can any of us say, “We finished something?”

I don’t know about you, but my “to-do” list isn’t getting any shorter – it’s getting longer.

I’ll never outrun it.

Think of how many times you’ve said, “I’ve started something” . . . but haven’t been able to say, “I finished it.”

I can remember as a college student, setting out in my spare time to be a salesman selling Amway products? How many others in here have a similar story of success? (more…)

April 9, 2013

Lady Margaret Thatcher 1925-2013 RIP

Filed under: culture, politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 3:21 pm

Lady Thatcher’s words from 1994, as delivered at Hillsdale College, provide a fitting Margaret_Thatchermemorial:

The Moral Foundations of Society

History has taught us that freedom cannot long survive unless it is based on moral foundations. The American founding bears ample witness to this fact. America has become the most powerful nation in history, yet she uses her power not for territorial expansion but to perpetuate freedom and justice throughout the world.

For over two centuries, Americans have held fast to their belief in freedom for all men—a belief that springs from their spiritual heritage. John Adams, second president of the United States, wrote in 1789, “Our Constitution was designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” That was an astonishing thing to say, but it was true.

What kind of people built America and thus prompted Adams to make such a statement? Sadly, too many people, especially young people, have a hard time answering that question. They know little of their own history (This is also true in Great Britain.) But America’s is a very distinguished history, nonetheless, and it has important lessons to teach us regarding the necessity of moral foundations.

John Winthrop, who led the Great Migration to America in the early 17th century and who helped found the Massachusetts Bay Colony, declared, “We shall be as a City upon a Hill.” On the voyage to the New World, he told the members of his company that they must rise to their responsibilities and learn to live as God intended men should live: in charity, love, and cooperation with one another. Most of the early founders affirmed the colonists were infused with the same spirit, and they tried to live in accord with a Biblical ethic. They felt they weren’t able to do so in Great Britain or elsewhere in Europe. Some of them were Protestant, and some were Catholic; it didn’t matter. What mattered was that they did not feel they had the liberty to worship freely and, therefore, to live freely, at home. With enormous courage, the first American colonists set out on a perilous journey to an unknown land—without government subsidies and not in order to amass fortunes but to fulfill their faith.

Christianity is based on the belief in a single God as evolved from Judaism. Most important of all, the faith of America’s founders affirmed the sanctity of each individual. Every human life—man or woman, child or adult, commoner or aristocrat, rich or poor—was equal in the eyes of the Lord. It also affirmed the responsibility of each individual.

This was not a faith that allowed people to do whatever they wished, regardless of the consequences. The Ten Commandments, the injunction of Moses (“Look after your neighbor as yourself”), the Sermon on the Mount, and the Golden Rule made Americans feel precious—and also accountable—for the way in which they used their God-given talents. Thus they shared a deep sense of obligation to one another. And, as the years passed, they not only formed strong communities but devised laws that would protect individual freedom—laws that would eventually be enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Freedom with Responsibility

Great Britain, which shares much of her history in common with America, has also derived strength from its moral foundations, especially since the 18th century when freedom gradually began to spread throughout her socie!y Many people were greatly influenced by the sermons of John Wesley (1703-1791), who took the Biblical ethic to the people in a way which the institutional church itself had not done previously.

But we in the West must also recognize our debt to other cultures. In the pre-Christian era, for example, the ancient philosophers like Plato and Aristotle had much to contribute to our understanding of such concepts as truth, goodness, and virtue. They knew full well that responsibility was the price of freedom. Yet it is doubtful whether truth, goodness, and virtue founded on reason alone would have endured in the same way as they did in the West, where they were based upon a Biblical ethic.

Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote tellingly of the collapse of Athens, which was the birthplace of democracy. He judged that, in the end, more than they wanted freedom, the Athenians wanted security. Yet they lost everything—security, comfort, and freedom. This was because they wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them. The freedom they were seeking was freedom from responsibility. It is no wonder, then, that they ceased to be free. In the modern world, we should recall the Athenians’ dire fate whenever we confront demands for increased state paternalism.

Read the rest here.

April 5, 2013

Who is God?

Filed under: encouragement, love, Poem, video — Anthony Biller @ 6:12 pm

My poet, writer and friend David Ballard recently wrote the following painfully elegant poem about how we know much about God from where we find Him in our lives.

 

Who is God?
by David Ballard

God is tears in the dishwater
When you’re doubled over with hurt.
God is trauma in a wheelchair
Crippled from a war
No one else will serve.
God is aching feet
When there’s no other way to work.
God is blisters and callouses
When those who can won’t dig.
God is for those who know they’re small,
And He is really big.
God is in the details, each and every one.
God is love to spread till the sun flames out,
And we’re no longer having fun.
God is Spirit who draws us with the fragrance
Of His peace.
God is Son who shook the gates of hell
With a love that gave release.
God is God whose love and grace
Sent me to my knees.

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