Archive for June, 2010

But Only God Can Make A Tree

We came home the other night after 3 weeks out teaching VBS’. It was good to get home for a little R&R before we head out to do 3 more VBS’, a Bible camp, and several churches yet this summer. The first thing we did as we climbed out of our motorhome was to head towards our pond. Ryan (one of our son-in-laws) had reported a great wind had come through earlier in the week and blew over the willow tree by the pond.

He was right … there it lay with its roots exposed to the sky. As we approached, our sadness from the loss of the tree was replaced by joy. There amid the fallen branches was a young buck mule deer with its antlers still in velvet. He was contently munching on the leaves of the weeping willow. I am still a little sad about losing the willow (and the unscheduled work it will take to remove it), but am reminded that it was a gift from God. You see, only 4 years ago it sprouted up along the bank of our pond. We didn’t plant it … God did.

One of the poems I learned in high-school was by poet Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918). After all these years I had forgotten all the words, but looked them up tonight.

I think that I shall never see 
poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

 Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree. 

 Funny, I didn’t recall the last verse. In high-school I had already began the slide towards atheism. Today, I know who really made the tree. The verse says it well!

Lanny Johnson

Update from the CHEC Home Educators Conference

Attendance and interest were great at the CHEC Conference in Denver last week.  We were able to share with many people the need for creation science in their home education program.  One woman shared how they were using the AOI DVD program to ground their children in a Christian worldview and help them to effectively defend their faith in a skeptical world. 

We also saw a real interest in attending one of our Creation Mountain Adventures at Redcloud Ranch – either this August or in the coming years.  Many families were looking for somewhere to go to make some special memories with their families; a place that would provide both education and recreation.  We told them that Redcloud would be the perfect place to do that!   

One gentleman shared his story of learning about the scientific evidences for creation through a creation seminar—becoming a creationist, and then immediately trusting Christ for salvation.   What a testimony!  What an encouragement to know that the Lord is using this vital message to transform lives!

Rich Stepanek

Sharing the Gospel with a Hindu

Recently, I was talking with two women I had just met. I found out that one of the women was familiar with creation evidences. After talking a short time, she asked if we might be available to do a program in her church. At that, the other woman also invited us to her town. When I asked if she attended a church that would be interested in a seminar, she said she went to a Hindu temple.

Now that would be interesting! I asked her what Hinduism teaches about evolution. She didn’t really know, but began talking about reincarnation. I told her that I found reincarnation to be really depressing, because you had to keep coming back again and again to try to “get it right” – and then you never for sure knew if you had “made it.” I was able to share the simple gospel message with her – that we don’t have to keep “coming back” again and again, because Jesus had already purchased our salvation and all we need to do is trust in Him and His work.

As we were leaving, she said it was a new idea and she would have to think about it. I praise God for the opportunity to share the gospel with her and pray that He will continue to water the seeds planted during this short encounter. What a privilege it is to be able to know and share the truth!

Mary Jo Nutting

Faith Cometh By Hearing

After a VBS session last night, a young man in high school approached Marilyn and I, asking if we would be willing to talk to him. This was shortly after a presentation of the gospel message. We spent about an hour with him, and without disclosing any of the private conversation that occurred, we came to the conclusion that he did believe in what Jesus did on the cross.

However, he admitted that he was not following the Lord in practice and had fallen into the wrong crowd. We could see there was remorse, and he was truly seeking an answer to why he had gone in this direction, and what he should do.  We were able to share a lot of God’s word with him. At the end of the meeting, he was still reluctant to make a commitment to Christ without more contemplation.

 Of course, our desires would have been to see this young man fall on his knees and give his life to the Lord right then and there. The natural question comes to mind, “Did we do enough to ‘convince’ him of the truth of the Gospel?” The comforting answer to that question is that it is not in our power to save anyone.  That is the job of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit …

“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)

I like how Eugene Petersen paraphrases these verses in his Message: “and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.”

We cannot save anyone. Our job is to share the Word of God and the gospel message. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Again, from the Message: “The point is, Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.” That’s our job … to preach. Thank you Lord for giving  us the ability and the opportunities to do just that!

 Lanny Johnson

Dinosaur sighting in Nebraska!

Dinosaur Sighting

Have you seen this dinosaur

There is a dinosaur on the loose in Chadron, NE.! Some men in the Chadron Berean church built a life-size dinosaur that they put on the back of a flatbed trailer. They have been moving it about town for several weeks promoting the Family Vacation Bible School. It is now sitting at the church as we do the VBS.

They have been feeding 150 to 200 people every night – hot dogs with all the trimmings, potato chips, drinks, and snow cones. The snow cones have been a big hit … every night the assembly is full of kids and adults with blue or red lips and tongues from the snow cone flavorings!  Near the tail of the “dino” is a one-way sign. Reminds us there is only one way to have a relationship with our Creator, and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ.

We will be sharing that wonderful good news with everyone tonight. Pray for the kids and adults to have the ears to hear and the hearts to believe!

 PS. The above dino was done from Mark Sonmor’s artwork for the Discover Creation Children’s Adventure. It is good to see the his art work being used in such a great way!

 Lanny Johnson

“And God Created the Great Whales” …. Genesis 1:21

Living in Grand Junction on the edge of the desert, we don’t get to see God’s ocean creatures “up close and personal.” However, on the past trip to Oregon, we had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Carrie Newell, a marine biologist and whale researcher. Carrie has been studying whales for the past 18 years, and is a wealth of knowledge about them (and other sea creatures). She shared many fascinating details about their lives, diet, reproduction, and migration patterns. Carrie specializes in gray whales, but the day she took us out in her Zodiak we saw no grays. Instead, we had the thrill of seeing 4 killer whales the size of her boat.  What a rare and special treat! We watched them for more than a half-hour as Carrie maneuvered her boat in what she considered “safe” range, took hundreds of pictures, and shared information with us. In all her years of whale research, she had only seen killer whales in the wild about 7 times, so we felt God gave us a real treat of seeing them our one time out. Whales are certainly great and awesome animals – how much greater is our awesome Creator who made them!

 P.S. If you’re ever in Depot Bay, Oregon, look Carrie up. We can’t guarantee you’ll see a whale, but we do know you will enjoy meeting Carrie and learning from her – or take a virtual trip at: www.whaleresearchexcursions.com.

By Mary Jo Nutting

Follow Up

One of the great blessings of this ministry is seeing children come to the Lord. This summer, in only 2 weeks of Vacation Bible Schools, we have already seen 23 children respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ! They are “babes” in Christ with an excitement and eagerness that is heartwarming … they are ‘on fire’ for Jesus. As we all know, a fire takes fuel. In Pr. 26:20 we read, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” Even though this verse is about gossip, the rule for fire is still seen. It takes fuel for a fire to burn. Without discipleship, the fire in these “babes” will die out. It grieves us to see so many of the churches that we work with miss the opportunity to follow up with these children and provide an opportunity for them to be fueled. Oh, they might invite them to attend their church … but do they make personal contact … do they follow up? Do they call or visit these children? Do they speak with the parents of these children? Do they offer to give the children transportation? Do they get a Bible and other material into the hands of the children to help them in their walk? Do they FOLLOW UP? Unfortunately, the answer for many of these churches is no. We continue to pray that these children will somehow be discipled. We also pray that the churches will not be the cause of one of these “babes” to lose their faith because of the lack of fuel.

Lanny Johnson

A Raging Storm

A few evenings ago, my wife and I sought shelter in a basement from a possible tornado. We were in our motorhome, parked next to a country church where we were teaching a Vacation Bible School. Late that night, it began to rain and blow with great intensity. A spectacular storm was underway! Outside, lightning was flashing almost continuously making the inside of the motorhome light up like a strobe light. This astonishing light show was accompanied by the reverberating booms of thunder. The rain was hammering on the motorhome with such ferocity that we had to almost shout to be heard. It would have been a fun storm to set back and enjoy … except for that nagging anxiety of a tornado lurking out there in the darkness. You see, we had no cell phone coverage, no television, no radio, no internet, no town sirens, nor neighbors within a mile to warn us of a possible tornado. All we had were our fears. Suddenly, the wind changed direction and slammed into the side of the motorhome. It felt like someone had hit us with a giant sledge hammer. The body of the motorhome began to lift and shake. Needless to say, our prayers turned to action. We grabbed some lights, blankets, and the dog, and ran through slashing wind (70 mph we discovered the next day!) and pelting rain to the shelter of the church. There in the corner of a basement room we found sanctuary. That room was so sheltered that you wouldn’t even know there was a storm raging outside! Marilyn and I were very thankful for the peace and calm we found. We were also reminded that many times in our lives we find ourselves caught up in storms of one kind or another … personal relationships, work situations, finances, etc. So many times we try to “solve” or “fix” the situation by our own strength and power, only to fail miserably. What we should do is turn to God. “ … The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:2-3) In God we can find true peace and calm!

Lanny Johnson

Help us in India

I have been traveling and teaching in India every winter for the last three years, and one request that I repeatedly receive from my Indian Christian friends is the crucial need for good laptop computers.  Many of the Christians there are very poor and cannot afford them. We all know the blessing that this technology can bring in education and learning. This will help run items such as Bible software and other critical tools in a ministry environment.   If you are able, consider donating to help a Christian in India.  

Please send your donations to AOI, and designate that it is for foreign computers.  Both AOI and the recipients will be greatly appreciative.  Next, please pray that we would find an efficient and inexpensive way to deliver them.  They have begun charging a fee if someone brings more than one computer into the country.  I have not encountered many problems in the past, but policies for entering India are changing.  Thank you for your prayers and support.

Richard Stepanek

Out of the Mouth of Babes

“And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.”    Genesis 21:6

When Marilyn and I teach Vacation Bible Schools and Bible Camps, we always spend part of one session presenting a demonstration of the gospel. At the end of the message, we invite the children and adults to accept the gift of salvation. We then ask those who respond to go to the back of the auditorium and speak to counselors about their response (we are not trying to force them to a decision). During this time the counselors ask and answer questions to determine if the child really understands and truly believes (of course, only God truly knows). Many children over the years have put their trust and faith in Jesus Christ at these meetings! Some have not … they just aren’t ready or are confused. Recently, one young boy told his counselor, “I want to follow Jesus, even if it means killing my sister!” Hmmm … probably not ready. Another said, “I don’t really want to be a Christian, but my Mom keeps nagging me about it.” Hmmm … probably not ready. Yet another, “I don’t really want to know anything … I was just tired of sitting.” I have to laugh when I hear these words out of the mouths of babes. Yet while I am laughing, I am also praying that they will someday believe in their Savior. We are comforted in knowing that God allowed us the opportunity to share His Word, and that the seeds of truth were planted. Whether that seed fell upon fertile soil is out of our hands, but we have been blessed to be a “sower”.

Lanny Johnson

“But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise’?”

Matthew 21:15-16