Archive for 2012

Star of Bethlehem

 

With the Christmas season here,  one mystery in the account of the birth of Christ is the star of Bethlehem.  This question is asked quite frequently when I teach on astronomy,  “So what did the wise men see?”  What kind of object was it?  Some say it was a special star similar to our sun, which was made by God; other ideas are planets, comets, or some other heavenly body.  As we study the motions of the stars, planets, etc., they rise on the eastern horizon and set in the west due to the earth’s rotation.  Well let’s see what the Bible says about this star and its movements.

As I study the star of Bethlehem, I start with using information that I have gleaned from Scripture.  The star appears on the night of Christ’s birth, then disappears for two years and then reappears as the wise men leave Jerusalem on their way to Bethlehem.   Bethlehem is south of Jerusalem, so the star moved south and then stopped and stood over a house, nobody else seems to have seen the star; so what did they see?

Well I believe there is more information we can conclude about this star.  The star had to be bright enough to be seen at night, but not too bright to change the night into day.  If the wise men traveled to Bethlehem during the day, the star had to be light enough to be seen by daylight.  The star had to be small and close enough to the earth to be noticeably standing over just one house.  The star had to be cool so it did not burn up the house. Objects in our solar system are the closest heavenly bodies to the earth, but they do not meet any of those criteria!  So what was it?  To learn more about the star you can visit our website and read an article on my perspective.

 

Rich Stepanek

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Just Like Dad

 

Walking the beach while on vacation, I saw a heart-warming site – a father standing with his son looking out at the waves and ships on the horizon. The thing that struck my heart was the way the son was standing. He purposefully looked at his dad and then assumed exactly the same pose, with hands behind his back, left hand resting in the right, gazing out at the ocean. (I would have loved to take a picture, but I didn’t want to disturb the moment for this father and son.)

Watching this boy of about 9 years – seeing the way he was watching and imitating his dad – caused me to reflect on the importance of the example we set for our kids and grandkids. They are watching us! Do we really want those following us to be “just like us,” or are there some areas we would cringe to see them copy? How important it is that we live consistent, God-honoring lives before them.

But then, I got to thinking – how can we become people worthy of following – we who are weak, fallen, and often struggling in various ways ourselves? Only by doing what the boy on the beach was doing – by looking intently at our Father – by seeing Him in the life of His Son, Jesus, our perfect example – and by deliberately, by the power of the Holy Spirit, imitating Him. Only then will we be worthy examples of humility, faith and endurance for our kids and others to follow. As Paul says in I Corinthians 11:1, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” (NASB)

“ . . . let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith . . .” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB, emphasis added)

 

Mary Jo Nutting

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Seed of Salvation at Epcot

My mother, wife and I have just gotten back from a wonderful 2 week vacation to Florida. While there, my mother treated my wife and I to a day trip to the theme park Epcot, part of Walt Disney World, near Orlando, Florida.

We began the day by visiting several attractions in what is called ‘Future World’.  As we traveled through a ride/exhibit called Spaceship Earth, I was saddened, but not really surprised that we were presented with our “evolutionary” beginnings. It is very hard to go anywhere in the secular world without hints, suggestions, or declarations of the evolutionary worldview. Therefore, when it came to the next attraction, Universe of Energy – “a ride with Ellen DeGeneres as she goes back to the dinosaur era “, I decided to pass … after all, I have seen almost all of the stuff Disney has put out about dinosaurs, and it sure does not fit with what I believe.

After several more ride/exhibits through ‘Future World’, we traveled on to ‘World Showcase’, where the cultures of many different countries are portrayed. We were able to see several well done presentations, learning a little more about each culture; however, I found the main focus at each area seemed to be to get people to spend lots of money on trinkets, food, and drink.  But it is very easy not to spend money if you don’t have any, and the good news … the drinking fountains and toilets were free.

The real highlight of Epcot had to be the evening “Candlelight Processional” at an outdoor amphitheater. There a full orchestra (complete with strings, winds and drum), accompanied with a splendidly robed choir of 300 wonderful voices, gave an hour long musical rendition of the favorite Christmas carols. Between each song, Andy Garcia, a well known Cuban/American Hollywood actor, read from the gospel of Luke about the birth of Jesus. Near the end of the presentation, Mr. Garcia shared the gospel message (a very watered down version, but still the gospel message).

The grand finale was Handel’s Messiah (also known as the Hallelujah Chorus). This great song of praise had the crowd of at least a 1000+ standing to their feet. I know that it is tradition to stand for this song, but no one is forced to sing along … yet the vast majority of the spectators were singing along with the choir, loud and strong!

So, was the seed of salvation planted on any fertile hearts that evening? That is a question only God can answer, but I do know that even with a watered down message, seeds were planted. And for that I give praise!

 

Lanny Johnson

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“The Brother of” Goliath

 

In the September/October 2012 issue of Think & Believe, I wrote that Bible skeptics attack the Bible by citing 2 Sam 21:19, which states that Elhanan killed Goliath. “So who really killed Goliath, David or Elhanan,” taunts the skeptic. I answered the objection by citing the context of the above passage which clearly shows that it was at a later time and that Elhanan killed a brother or relative of the “famous” Goliath (perhaps with the same name). This also agrees with the report found in 1Ch 20:5, which shows that this was a “brother” of Goliath. Keep in mind that the word translated “brother” could also be translated as “relative.” This clears up the supposed “conflict” and fits well with the context and wording of the 2 Samuel verse.

Some readers wrote in to ask why I didn’t merely refer to the King James Version of the 2 Samuel passage in question. I failed to do so for good reason, which I didn’t have room to adequately cover in the article. The KJV version states that Elhanan killed “the brother of Goliath.”  So, yes, this would have cleared the conflict up immediately. However “the brother of” is in italics in the KJV. This means it was added by the translator for clarification but was not in the original text. Skeptics who care nothing about the KJV, or the Bible in general, would ask if the KJV translators were wrongfully adding to the Bible text to “cover up” a Bible contradiction. No, that is not the case as indicated by their correct way of notating the clarification.  The translators correctly paid attention to the CONTEXT.

Keep in mind that criticism against the Bible is frequently leveled at young people who have only read modern translations of the Bible, if they have even read it at all.  These do not contain the above mentioned italicized words as found in the KJV. The attack is also leveled at the many young people who do not have a good grasp of Scripture or who don’t bother thinking about the actual CONTEXT. Hence, they are easy prey for the skeptic’s challenge to the Bible. The CONTEXT of the verse is plenty clear in virtually any of the translations our young people use in order to answer the anti-Bible critic, even if they never see the KJV’s rendering of the verse which includes “the brother of” Goliath.

 

Dave Nutting

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Scientists are again inspired by nature for new artificial lens

 

In an attempt to construct a better lens, scientists have turned to the complex systems in nature.  By studying the human eye and the way it is designed, they believe they have designed a lens better than the intraocular lenses manufactured today.  The goal is to produce a more natural and superior lens to be used in damaged or diseased human eye lenses, consumer vision products, and surveillance equipment.

With all the studying, technology, and intelligence of man, nature still produces a superior eye compared to what man can create today.  But the superior human eye is not really designed, according to some evolutionists, it is only an illusion!  What I find amazing is something that they say has no intelligence can develop a super complex system better then what man can make with all of his intelligence, research, resources, and computers to boot.  This doesn’t say much for mankind.

Is there a more logical explanation?  A Designer superior to mankind with greater intelligence, power, technology, etc., and we are just pirating His technology.  I believe this superior Designer should receive royalties or at least get the glory!

Source Material: Artificial Lens Mimics Natural Human Eye

Richard Stepanek

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Intense Interest even with lighting Challenges in Mexico

 

One thing I really appreciate when spending time in foreign cultures is the intense interest they have in our subject matter.  Even the children are intent …not to mention the parents. They are hungry for the information. This picture was taken in a Leon, Mexico, church at about the time of their normal break or siesta. I would venture to guess that if I took a similar picture in most churches in the States that we would catch plenty of people dozing!

Actually, I have heard it stated that if you were to line up — end-to-end — everyone who fell asleep in the pew in a church service on any given Sunday morning. . . they would be a whole lot more comfortable. :-)

Sometimes the lighting we have when giving our presentations is very good, as it was in this conference room in Leon, Mexico (picture to the right).  Other times, such as in another church in Leon, there were major difficulties in lighting (notice the sky lights in the ceiling we had to contend with. There was also bright sunlight coming in from the other end of the building). With only black and white pictures and images which they use for the song service, the visuals come out to a minimal, but barely workable, level. However, since we use so many pictures with high color (vivid) images, the slides actually show up horribly in very brightly lit rooms.

To overcome, we brought everyone in the church a little closer together and used our own projector (brighter), while using a screen on a slightly darker sidewall area. By projecting at closer range without the zoom feature, it worked reasonably well to get our points across. I knew what the images should look like, but I doubt most people really knew. They may have thought that our images could stand to be improved. (If only they could have seen my laptop screen!) Regardless of the difficulties, the people of this church actually stayed intently tuned for 2.5 hours of presentation and Q&A time after already attending their 1.5 hour worship service, so it couldn’t have been too bad.

It wasn’t until nearly the end of the program that I figured out why it was so HOT in that room. With the projector closer to me than normal, I was getting a hot blast of air from the projector fan!  I have been in the hot seat before, but this was a little different.

But even with the lighting issues, it has been a most rewarding time of teaching in Mexico.

 

Dave Nutting

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Repairing in Mexico

 

Moving the Farmers family from Guadalajara, Mexico to Tepic, Mexico went well.  The three hour drive through the mountains was beautiful.  We arrived in Tepic Thursday afternoon (Nov. 29) to a house which was much larger than the one they had in Guadalajara.  This is a blessing for a family with three active boys!  But the house was in need of some work, the repairs included electrical, plumbing, woodwork, etc.

Finding parts to fix a water heater, water valves, and the electrical was a real challenge.   We were in a new city, so finding hardware stores with the parts we needed was difficult.  It was not uncommon to drive for half a day and not find any of the parts we needed.   Many times we had to modify parts to fit the equipment we were trying to repair.  With prayer and ingenuity, we were able to complete all the tasks.

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to teach at Vida Eterna, a church in Tepic.  Many of the people attending were encouraged by the creation message.  The interest to know more about creation was overwhelming, so the plan is to return to Tepic in the future to do more teaching.  The house was not the only thing in need of repair and strengthening, but also the support for creation.  Sue, Joel, and I had a wonderful time with family and getting to know our brothers and sisters in Christ in Mexico.

 

Rich Stepanek

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Creation in Mexico

 

Mary Jo & I are “on vacation,” but, as you can see, we are in the midst of speaking on Creation vs. Evolution at several locations in Mexico. (What better thing to do on vacation? And yes, we will get some good R&R time!) On the right is Mary Jo giving evidence for creation and the problems with evolution through our Spanish translator to a group of 75 people who have congregated to hear about this issue on a Saturday afternoon. I wonder how many in the States would give up a prime shopping day on a Saturday just prior to Christmas to hear the truth. These people are hungry to hear the other side of the issue.

Actually, evolution is being taught in most places around the world. AOI speaking staff has now had opportunity to speak in about 30 countries around the world and has found that evolution is just as much an issue in these countries as in the States. We also find that there is good interest in Creation in virtually all the places we have gone.

We are thankful to be able to bring the message of Creation and the difficulties with evolution to people anywhere we are asked to go.  This is a big world, and our limited staff can only go to a small part of it. We need many more people to take this message far and wide! On this trip, we have given seminars/presentations to 3 different groups and still have more to do including a 3 day seminar at a large church. Already this week, 4 individuals told us they desire to be trained to help spread the message. We have been formulating how best to expand AOI’s training program and to do this in light of limited finances —  both AOI’s and those who wish to have the training. Pray with us for wisdom to find the best way to move forward.

 

Dave Nutting

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

Not a Minority After All

 

Because I believe in God as the Creator, I must be in a very small minority. At least that might be a conclusion one arrives at if you were to believe everything the textbooks, the media, the Hollywood movies and television portray – that mindless evolution has made everything!

However, a recent 2012 Gallup Poll (a division of Gallup that regularly conducts public opinion polls in more than 140 countries – see wikipedia for more information on Gallup Inc.) revealed that a majority of the populace believes that God created people in their present form.

Those who believe in God as the Creator are larger in number than those who believe in atheistic evolution or theistic evolution (evolution directed by God). See their site for more information on the poll.

It is encouraging knowing that the battle has not been lost, and those who are on the battleground of the Creation/Evolution issue are making a difference.

 

Lanny Johnson

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.

With a little help …

 

Sue, Joel, and I left Colorado on Sunday Nov. 25 to fly to Mexico.  We spent the first few days helping our daughter, Kim, and her husband Jasson pack up their family and house in Guadalajara, Mexico.  We have been primarily helping take care of their three young boys, as well as giving their house a fresh coat of paint.

Thursday we traveled to Tepic, about 3 hours away, unloaded the cargo, and helped them get settled in their new home.  Two other UIM pilots were also there to help.  It is a big job since there are multiple stairways and tight spots to navigate to get the furniture from the house to the trailer.  But it has all gone well so far.  It has been a blessing for us to be able to be here to take part in this project.  In the evenings I have been teaching on various creation topics.  The trip has been mixed with work, babysitting, teaching, and a whole lot of family.  It has been a blessing in so many ways.

 

Rich Stepanek

If you would like to see if an AOI seminar is right for you, or you would like to help the work of Alpha Omega Institute, please visit our website events page or our donate page. Keep up to date with what AOI is doing.  Thanks for your partnership.