Archive for July, 2013

Looking for a Fight?

 

Chess-BattlePut up your fists! Are you ready for a fight?

Every day of a Christian’s life contains some conflict. It may be physical or psychological persecution, philosophical debate, or the everyday conflict of the spirit against the flesh; but we are always fighting something. Some people relish the thought of a debate, but few, if any, truly enjoy being “on guard” all of the time.

In reality though, isn’t that what we are called to do? 1 Peter 3:14-15a says “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” That sure looks like “on guard” language to me!

When I think of this in terms of defending Biblical Creationism, I am challenged to equip myself with answers. As a follower and representative of Christ, I want to be able to “make a defense” when God’s authority is challenged. The Creation vs. Evolution battlefield is full of heated skirmishes and drawn battles, making a peace-loving soul like myself cringe at the thought of the conflict and tension that I will encounter at most every turn.

Does taking a stand for the accuracy of a literal interpretation of Genesis require a passionate desire to take stabs at my “enemy,” hoping to take him down? In order to be used by God, do I need to be armed with an arsenal of scornful words and a mental resolve to “show no mercy?”

Remember the rest of that verse from 1 Peter 3: “Yet with gentleness and reverence.”

I want to be armed and ready with God’s truth (His word) so that I am equipped to represent Christ well; but that doesn’t require a “thirst for blood” and ravenous need to chew up and spit out my opponent! I don’t seek to defend the truth of Creationism so that I can put a notch on my metaphorical pistol when I out-talk someone in a debate.

I want this to be true of me: “And keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:16) Even when I am scoffed at because of the apparent foolishness of my beliefs, I can still speak gently and reverently, knowing that it is God who works through His Spirit and uses the evidence to confirm His truth.

So whether you are like me and inclined to be a peacemaker, or the idea of a war of words gets you chomping at the bit to get a piece of it, I encourage you to keep this in mind; when you are in the midst of a conflict of beliefs, remember the end of 1 Peter 3:15 (and read the rest of 1 Peter 3:13-16). Always be ready to make a defense, but in as much as you can, do it the way God designed. After all, He’s the one we’re fighting for.

 

Aimee Mariani

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.

Water in a Dry Place

 

Camp ShilohIt was a fun, but challenging week at Camp Shiloh in Wyoming, teaching 45 kids, ages 6-16, from extremely diverse backgrounds. Some of the kids were from solid Christian homes and have been at camp every summer for many years. Others were there for the first time and came from extremely difficult home situations. In addition there are cultural differences, as about ¼ of the kids are Native Americans from a nearby reservation.

The knowledge level and spiritual understanding of the kids was so varied. Some were strong believers in Jesus – others didn’t even know who He is. Teaching such a diverse group can be a real challenge, but we believe each child came by God’s sovereignty and design. Each one is fearfully and wonderfully made and needs to know the truth of Creation and the wonderful love of the Lord in salvation.

Historic Camp Shiloh ChapelCamp Shiloh is an interdenominational camp held at Circle J ranch near Ten Sleep, WY, at the base of the beautiful Big Horn Mountains. The camp sits in a magnificent canyon, and has an interesting history as a cattle ranch, apple orchard, and now a Christian camp and retreat center. Our meetings were held in a quaint historic chapel, and we enjoyed watching a flock of sheep pastured near our campsite, a cattle-drive down the main highway one morning, and the beautiful rushing river that ran through the camp. The only down-side was the heat during the day and the gale-force winds that threatened to blow us away one night (quite an experience in our little roof-top tent!)

Ranching near the Big Horn MountainsCreation ministry on the road sometimes has other interesting “challenges.” One night, I had an unexpected surprise as I made a mid-night journey across the camp to the necessary facilities. As I rounded the corner to the bathhouse, I was royally doused by a sprinkler, right by the door of the ladies’ bathhouse! I managed to get inside and do my business, but managed to get doused again as I tried to dodge the sprinkler on my way out. I’m glad it was a warm night. It really was pretty funny, and now I know how they keep the grass so beautifully green in this dry canyon country!

We pray that God will water the seeds planted in the hearts of kids that week and touch the life of each child at their level of need. May the lessons learned through the teachings, songs, memory verses, crafts, games, cabin times, and relationships take root and grow strong. What a privilege and blessing it is to teach the truth of Creation, the reliability of the Word, and the wonderful gift of salvation in Jesus!

 

Mary Jo 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.

Glad Tidings Bible Camp

 

Gaga Ball

Gaga Ball

A couple of weeks ago, I was at Glad Tidings Bible Camp teaching a group of 5th and 6th graders.  They were a lively bunch of kids, full of energy!  It was hard trying to keep up with them.  The time was full of new games and activities.

One day, we took a short run in the morning after flag raising.  I played carpet ball with them.  At first they beat me every time, but I eventually got the hang of it.  I participated in ‘capture the flag’ and of course got caught and sent to jail early on in the game.  I also had the opportunity to play ‘gaga ball’ for the first time.  It is a fun and active game.

Glad Tidings Bible CampI didn’t just play at camp, there was also chapel time where I taught on creation/Genesis accompanied with the gospel message.  I have discovered by really being a part of the campers lives they are more open to listening to me and the gospel.  There is definitely more to camp than just fun and teaching, there is also counseling.

I discover many people who are hurting, confused, and some are in need of some spiritual advice.  I probably spend more time in counseling than teaching.  The needs are so great!  People want more than just milk, they want meat!  Even children!  People want to know the in-depth teachings of Scripture.  It is fun to learn the truth if you use the Bible as your guide to study true science.  It is a delight to see both young and old grow in the LORD!  Thanks for making times like this possible.

 

 

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.

Why Doesn’t God . . . ?

 

Atheists and agnostics contended with my blog, which honored God for clearing the smoke from the forest fire when we prayed. They asked why this God is interested in the smoke, but doesn’t seem to care enough to end poverty, disease, and hunger. To some of the committed atheists who I hear from, it becomes one excuse to claim that God doesn’t exist.

Why Doesn't GodThere is a powerful concept that atheists have totally missed: God does care. Actually, God really showed that he cares and is doing something about the problems by stepping into His created world. Two thousand years ago was the start of an amazing movement which turned the way people saw and responded to the needs of other individuals upside down. This is when Jesus came to earth, announced the Kingdom of God, demonstrated it with power by healing thousands, restoring sight to the blind, making the lame to walk, and feeding thousands of people. Most importantly, he empowered those who believe in Him to do even greater things than He did. Even though the wickedness of this world nailed Jesus to a cross (another topic), His kingdom has been advancing throughout the world ever since– especially by those who are His followers.

Look around. You can see the results of God’s intervention which He started way back then. Keep in mind that God usually uses people to carry out his desires. Frequently people pray for God to help a need or a group of individuals. When they are done praying, sometimes they are left with the distinct impression or, even a stronger sense as if by an audible voice asking, “What about you? I’ve chosen you to be my instrument to bring that about.” Today, there are hundreds of thousands of non-governmental orphanages, medical clinics, food and clothing banks, housing projects, etc., which had their origins when Jesus’ followers prayed and then acted on His teaching to have an impact not only in people’s spiritual needs, but also in their physical needs – food, clothing, shelter, and health.

Yes, there are some groups led by those claiming to be atheists who have done something significant, although that number is a fraction of the multitude of Christian organizations and individuals who are actively providing for those important needs. To the confirmed atheist, the question is, “What are you doing personally about the poverty, disease, and hunger?” You do have a choice. You can choose to shake your fist at a God you may not believe in for not doing something (which is not true) or you can respond to His way of employing people to become part of the solution to the issues you see. By the way, you can do some great things, but I personally believe you can accomplish even more if you turn to Him and allow Him to empower you. I believe working alongside of a powerful God can get a whole lot more accomplished.

 

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.

Comfort in the Gospel

  Comfort in the Gospel

In all our seminars, Vacation Bible Schools (VBS), and Bible camps, I always share the gospel message in one way or another. At camps and VBS I usually have time to do a skit using three men and my wife to visually demonstrate why Jesus died on the cross for our sins.

Part of that presentation involves Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” This verse tells us that it is not by anything we can do ourselves that sin is removed from our lives … it is all about what Jesus did for us on the cross.

We have seen many children over the years respond to the gospel message after this presentation. Just last week I was reminded that God’s grace not only impacts our lives with the gift of salvation, but His grace also gives us great comfort.

After finishing a salvation message at a VBS last week, I stopped to talk to a woman seated in the auditorium. Even though this particular VBS was a children’s program, instead of a family program that we normally do, this lady had attended every teaching session that week. She shared that she had been having a very rough week, with a lot of conflict and difficulties within her family.

She said that when she came that day, she was at the brink of her endurance, but the gospel message had given her a renewed hope and comfort. She was reminded how much Jesus really cared for and loved her, that He was willing to die for her sins. It was that love that gave her great comfort and a renewed strength to face her troubles.

When was the last time you pondered the cross and gave thanks for your salvation and gained comfort in it?

 

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.

Our Ministry Goal is Helping Your Ministry

 

Hey guys, on our last post, we gave our introduction and testimonies. Now I want to share a little bit more. I want to share about my vision and motivation in working with AOI.

For the past 10 years, I have been interested in Creation Science, but never have known how to get involved. I believe that there is a whole army of young people who see the importance of Creation and want to make a difference…yet they don’t know how. You may be one of those people that want to get involved (even if you are not “young”).

As you know, our ministry is small and limited to what we can really do, but I want to connect people all over the country in small, local Creation Groups and in being connected, WE can do a lot to affect our local communities, which in turn is affecting the whole world.

You may be thinking, “what can I really do?” By yourself, you are limited, but we want to connect you to be able to do Creation Ministry with other people who are doing Creation Ministry. There can be strength and growth in numbers.

So I have put together a short checklist below on how to get involved in Creation ministries. Helpful explanations and resources can be found on the expanded checklist on our Get Involved in Creation Ministry blog post.

ChecklistPray about what God wants you to be involved in. Getting started in Creation Ministry might be the hardest step, but it may not be as hard as you think.

Start a group, whether on facebook or a small Bible study group, among family or friends. With this group, you can teach each other, outreach to your local community, and many other projects that could greatly impact your church, your community, AOI, other Creation Ministries, evolutionist and atheist groups, and beyond.

Connect your group to AOI by contacting us, so that we can build a network of people sharing and teaching creation from all around the world. If there are other groups in your area, then we can help connect you. This is the body of Christ in action.

For more information on doing Creation Ministry, check out our new facebook group, Amateur Creation Speakers.

Remember, God works through the lives of normal people.

Do you want to make a difference and make an impact in the world? How do you do that?

Checklist to get involved in Creation Ministries

  • Pray
  • Connect to a Group
  • Read and Learn about Creation Topics
  • Know the Heart of the Matter
  • Study Evangelism
  • Answer Youtube Comments or engage the virtual community
  • Start Writing (or using other talents)
  • Do Short Videos
  • Create Powerpoints (or other demonstrations)
  • Do your Presentation for your youth group, church, or do a VBS with your local group.

 

*To learn more (or if you have problems with the links above), each section is expanded at http://brianandaimeeforcreation.wordpress.com/2013/07/17/get-involved-in-creation-ministry/  or also at https://www.facebook.com/groups/amateurcreationspeakers/  and in the File section entitled: “Full Checklist to Get Involved in Creation Ministries”

 

Brian Mariani

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.

 

Family Hits Road With Creation

 

After working so hard teaching and writing, it’s always good to know that your work is having an impact on the lives of others, and that they are taking the material learned from you and passing it on to others. Recently we received an encouraging testimony from a woman in Montana. She wrote:

 

Discover Creation DVD setQuite a few years ago [my husband] and I were at a marriage retreat in Colorado – over by Horn Creek at Hermit Basin. [We] were edified by the Creation Series. We have since purchased a video series to share with others and have sent one to a friend. 

This summer my three younger kids and I are traveling across the states and we made a “re-purposed,” tall, card-board animal book into the creation story – 7 days – and then your copy of the plan of salvation. We have ministered to almost 100 people so far with the Creation story in two weeks – we have 6 weeks left on our journey. One girl came to Christ, one young man rededicated his life, Christians have had answers to where the dinosaurs fit in. The body of Christ has been so excited that we have shared the story with them.

Thank you for sharing the truth. [My husband] and I do try to financially support you guys as often as possible. This fall we will be starting small groups in our home showing your DVD series to families. Thank you and bless you! 

M.D., Montana (slightly modified)

 

This family has stepped out in faith and boldness, and God is blessing the endeavor. How encouraging to all of us at AOI! We wish everybody that hears the message of Creation and the Gospel would be so bold and creative. How about praying and asking Him to show you ways you can share with others. AOI’s DVD series would be a great place to start! Call AOI at 800-377-1923 to order a set or check out our website to get even more information, and order it there.

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men [and women], who will be able to teach others also.” (II Timothy 2:2)

 

Mary Jo 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.

The IFCA National Youth Convention

 

IFCA Youth ConferenceIn June, I had the opportunity to teach at the IFCA National Youth Convention which was held on the Appalachian Bible College campus.  Over 370 youth (junior and senior high students), from 30+ churches, attended the conference.  Each year the convention seems to grow just a little more.  This is a good sign since the convention is focused on training youth to be more involved in the church.  The competition was fierce, but in a godly way.  The final Bible knowledge competition went into overtime with the champions winning by only ten points.

It is a great privilege to be involved in the lives of these godly young people.  I had the pleasure to teach sixteen hours while at the convention, sometimes ending as late as 10:30 pm.

Some of the comments are below:

“Thank you for speaking at the convention this week.  I enjoyed all of your breakout sessions, especially the one on astronomy.  It gave me a glimpse of just how small I really am.  It blows my mind that the God of this universe would love me.  The past few months I’ve really been struggling with committing myself to God’s will completely. Last night I did, and your session on astronomy is one of the reasons I did. Thank you so much!”

“Dear Mr. Stepanek, 
Thank you so much for your boldness in declaring the truth in your Friday breakout session.  If you hadn’t told me these things, I’d probably never have heard them.  May God bless you for telling the truth.”

I want to thank our donors and prayer partners, you really make events like this possible.

 

Rich with Pastor Travis Huseby - Director of Nat. IFCA Youth

Rich with Pastor Travis Huseby – Director of National IFCA Youth

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.

Copying to Prevent ‘Copying’

 

Blue Morpho Butterfly wing - reflected lightHow do you prevent counterfeiters from copying money, drugs, designer clothes and accessories, etc.? Some engineers are turning to the amazing wing of the South American Blue Morpho butterfly for a solution.

The Blue Morpho’s brilliant wing color isn’t due to pigment. Instead of pigments, the butterfly’s wings have complicated scales with very tiny holes that reflect different colors or wavelengths, producing iridescent, shining blue and greens.

The Nanotech Security Corp., in Vancouver, Canada, has copied the design of the Blue Morpho butterfly.  Using a new technology called nano*-optics, they have developed a method to produce nano-holes in silicon or quartz. The process takes from a few hours to a couple of days to produce a master pattern (image), after which a second process grows the image on nickel. From there it can be embossed to any material.1

Blue Morpho Butterfly wing - microribs“The entire image could be large enough to be seen from a distance, and, if embossed on high-priced items like designer handbags, would make it easy to spot the phonies,” said Doug Blakeway, Nanotech’s CEO.2

Because the image would be very difficult to reverse engineer, and expensive because of the equipment needed, it has been stated that the process is ‘unlikely’ to be counterfeited. Hmmm – that has been said about many types of security … time will tell.

This type of work is yet another example of biomimicry – adapting God’s creations for advanced human technologies.

 

*Based on the scale of nanometers – one nanometer is hundreds of times smaller than even the tiniest bacterial cell.

1 Butterflies Inspire Anti-Counterfeit Technology, Inside Science, Joel N. Shurkin, 6/19/13

2Ibid.

 

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.

Who are the Marianis?

 

Brian and Aimee MarianiHello AOI Followers, we are new on staff at AOI and we wanted to introduce ourselves in our first blog post. We are Brian and Aimee Mariani and here are our brief testimonies of how God has worked in our lives in exciting ways and brought us to this position at AOI! That is actually a picture of us jumping into service with AOI at a Creation Boot Camp at Camp Redcloud during the last week of June.

Brian: Hey guys, first off, I grew up in Bloomington, Illinois and was raised in a close family, a good church body, and in public schools. I was always interested in math and science and first learned of Creation science right before high school. I always just trusted the Bible at face value, since it is God’s word. So as a freshman and in biology class, I never knew how to combat the arguments of evolution. God led me to two different secular universities as I studied for a physics teaching degree all the while struggling to explain my faith and the evidence to my peers. It saddened me to see very intelligent people deceived by the claims of evolution.

God then led me to Jackson Hole Bible College, which strengthened my creation worldview and I had the opportunity to research and help write The Genius of Ancient Man with the research team there. This is where Aimee and I met and got to know each other.

From there I spent two years teaching science at a small Christian school, where I was blessed to be able to teach them the evidence, the arguments, and the philosophies as we compared creation and evolution. I was able to show my students how the Bible is consistent, that God did create everything in six days, and that there is evidence to back that up. I was also able to show the pervasiveness of evolution, despite there being very little evidence to support the theory and a lot of things that could simply discredit the theory.

Aimee: I grew up in northern California in a strong Christian home. My seven younger siblings and I were all homeschooled through high school, which was a huge blessing. This not only knit a tight bond of friendship within our family, but also helped to give us a strong foundation and belief in Biblical creation. My parents both have a love for science and encouraged us all to learn and marvel at God’s creation, and my dad, a mechanical engineer, loved to explain scientific concepts to us in an interesting and understandable way.

After high school, God used my love for history to lead me to a position at Rock-N-Water, a Christian camp in California. Over the years I ended up being a program director there. This was a huge part of my practical education, where I learned a lot about working with people, and grew in passion to share my love for seeing God’s glory in His creation.

God then used this passion to lead me to Jackson Hole Bible College. I learned a lot, and it grew and strengthened my faith, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it after graduation. As I neared the end of my year there, it was actually during the first day of geology class with Dave and Mary Jo Nutting that I felt a strong calling to some kind of creation ministry… someday… somehow. As time went on, I started to think that perhaps what I was really called to was to help my husband in creation ministry, supporting and assisting him in whatever ways I could. When Brian and I got engaged almost exactly one year later, I could see God’s hand confirming that those dreams really were part of His plan.

We got to know the Nuttings through the Grand Canyon geology field trip at Jackson Hole Bible College, and we both kept in touch with them. So we were delighted to see God lead us to take up this position with AOI. We have always wanted to teach others about God through His word, His creation, and science, so we believe that this opportunity with AOI is a great fit.

We will be busy this first month, setting up our house, raising support, developing more and better creation presentations, and the many things that we need to do to build up our ministry here. We hope to be able to travel and do presentations at churches or groups all across the country (or beyond) as well, so we would love to meet you and let us know if we can come speak at your church or group. We will continue to leave more blogs with more details for you all! We would appreciate your prayers, so thanks and May God Bless You!

 

Brian and Aimee Mariani

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.