All posts in Stepaneks from the Front

Who’s fault is it?

 

As more tests were performed to determine the extent of Sue’s cancer, there was good news.  The cancer seems to be contained to one area.    It seems we may have detected the cancer before it spread to other organs, and the surgery appears to confirm this.  The surgery was a difficult one, but a success, and we are still in for a long haul.

In-The-BeginningThe question is, who is responsible for Sue having cancer?  Is it God’s fault?  If God is a God of love, how could He allow Sue to have cancer?  God is not to blame.  As I study Genesis chapters one and two, God made everything perfect (very good).  Cancer is not ‘very good.’  It is a corruption of what was originally very good.

So, how did this corruption enter into God’s perfect creation?  Again, the answer lies in Genesis.  Adam and Eve were made to live forever in paradise, but something went wrong.  The serpent, which was possessed by Lucifer, deceived Eve, who then enticed Adam to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  When Adam ate of the fruit from this tree, death and corruption entered into God’s perfect world.

So God is not to blame; man is to blame.  The death and suffering we observe around us is a consequence of sin.  I have also observed that when mankind moves further away from God and His Word, suffering seems to increase.

Does Sue have cancer because God is punishing her for her sins or those of her parents?  The answer to that question again is no.  Jesus revealed this in John chapter nine.

John 9:2, 3: “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Is it God’s will or desire for her to have cancer?  The answer again is no.  God’s desire is for all to repent and have eternal life and have it abundantly.  God came to bring life and not corruption and death.  The evil one comes to bring death and suffering.

John 10:10: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” 

Jesus Christ came to deliver us from this present evil world of death and suffering.

Galatians 1:4:  “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:”

Revelation 21:4: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

God’s will and desire is to take away death, sorrow, crying, pain, etc.  God wants the best for us, and that is why He sent His Son to save us.

Satan is the prince or god of this world.  Through Satan’s deception and man’s sin, death and suffering abound in this world.

John 14:30: “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”

2 Corinthians 4:4: “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Jesus Christ has come, and will come again, to change the corruption which has entered into the world.  Praise the LORD!

God is always very good and everything He does is right, but God has allowed Sue to have cancer.  We do not know why, but there must be a reason.  God has a plan for our lives and that is all we need to know.  So for now our goal is to glorify God in any circumstance and to rejoice in the LORD always!

Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

God will be with us through this time of suffering. Thank you for all of your prayers and support.

Hebrews 13:5:  “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

 

Richard 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.

Dirty Six Letter Word

 

Most people have heard of those bad four letter words, but there is a six letter word that affects many people today.  People shudder when they hear this word, especially if they are told they have it.  That six letter word is cancer.  Sue, my wife, was told that she has cancer.  The doctor said it was bad, and we were in for the long haul.

Thoughts of death immediately came into our minds.  We were in a state of deep mourning for two or three days.  The mourning wasn’t over her dying, but over her separation from loved ones.  There is no condemnation in Christ, and to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Romans 8:1:  “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Philippians 1:21:  “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

As we were grieving over this temporary separation, we were wondering how God must feel with permanent separation from those who do not trust in Jesus as their Savior?

God loves everyone and desires to have a close relationship with all of mankind, and that is why He sent His Son, Jesus Christ.

John 3:16, 17:  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Having cancer is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.  The worst thing that can happen to a person is to die without knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior.

 

Richard 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.

He Sets Our Schedule

 

Rich and Friends in HoustonA friend of mine from Houston, TX, whom I had not seen for twelve years, called and informed me that he had found some cheap airline fares from Denver to Houston on the web.  He wanted to see if I would be interested in flying to Houston and teach, if he purchased the tickets.  I replied, “sure, go for it!”  He then let me know he would set up the teaching schedule for the trip.

On arrival, he relayed the problems that accompanied the planning of the schedule.  In other words, nothing was scheduled.  We prayed.  That afternoon as we talked with some of his friends, he decided to talk to their pastor about teaching at church.  God opened the doors so I could teach that evening.

He also knew of a Bible study, that he had attended in the past when time allowed, that usually met in the evening on the following day.  We unfortunately arrived thirty minutes late to the church.  They had just finished their pray time and were ready to start the Bible study.  Out of the blue, the leader asked me to teach.  The next day, another church asked me to teach Sunday school.  Is God good or what!

I am totally convinced He sets my schedule.  A friend from Minnesota once told me, “our disappointments are His appointments.”  He had given me this insight while we were in Russia and all of our plans were unraveling.  I am so glad God is in control!

Proverb 16:9  – A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

 

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.

A Confused Visitor in Paonia…

 

Paonia Event 1Recently I taught in Paonia, CO, for a church which was trying to reach out to their community.  The seminars were held at the public library from Monday through Wednesday.  Before the seminar, I was talking with the pastor about what key topics I should teach on and other important event information.  As we talked, I discovered they had double booked their Wednesday night program.  Wednesday was also the opening night for their local AWANA ministry.  The pastor had realized this after the secretary sent out the mailings for the creation seminar.   We both agreed God must have something special planned for the Wednesday night creation teaching, and He did!

A man came to the library to attend a geology program, but was confused about the actual date.  He came a day to early.  As he talked with one of the church members, he discovered his mistake, but not until after he had heard some of my talk on the scientific evidence for creation.  To my disappointment, the confused guest did not want to stay for the seminar and decided to leave.  Then, to my amazement, he returned!  I tried to listen in on his dialog with a church member.  The guest had asked the question; “Why is this information so important?”

Paonia Event 2It is vitally important, because teaching creation reveals scientific evidence that points to the existence of God and the Bible proclaims information about the Creator and how we can have a relationship with Him.  He stayed for the two and a half hours, listening to the program, asking questions, talking to the pastor, and became interested in learning even more.  As I listened to his questions, I discovered that there is truly a lack of both true scientific and Biblical information in the world.  Because of this lack of knowledge, people are missing the blessings and salvation from the God of creation.

Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…”

 

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.

An Unexpected Surprise

 

I had an unexpected surprise not too long ago.  A man on a motorcycle appeared in our yard one afternoon, and I was puzzled about who he was and what he wanted.  As I was pondering, I came to the conclusion he was a friend from Nebraska… but what was he doing here?   He lived over 500 miles away!  As we exchanged greetings, he let me know that he took the risk of driving to Grand Junction so he could learn more about creation and Genesis.  We had a wonderful two days of fellowship and discipleship.  I used some of my PowerPoint creation topics to teach, as well as a leisurely drive through the Colorado National Monument to explain the evidence of the world-wide flood of Noah’s day.

He commented the following about the scientific evidence we had discussed, “Taking me up on Glade Park (Colorado National Monument) and teaching me new things, has made God more awesome to me than ever. His power makes me shudder.”  Information on Genesis, creation, and the Flood does change people’s lives.

As I reflected on the time I spent with my friend, I realized it is just as important to teach one person as it is to teach a huge group.  Normally I like to teach to a large audience, because I feel like I can reach more people that way, but that may not always be the case.

Take for example Philip, in Acts chapter eight, who travels to the city of Samaria because of the persecution in Jerusalem.  In Samaria, he preached Christ to them and many were saved.  Next, the angel of the Lord sends Philip to a road which leads from Jerusalem to Gaza.  This is over fifty miles from the city of Samaria. This is a long way when traveling by foot.   God sends him there for the instruction of just one man about the LORD.  This man is the Ethiopian eunuch.  The eunuch believes the words of God and is then baptized.  Is preaching and discipling just one man important!  Yes, it is!  He had an influence on his own country.

Unexpected SurpriseNow we come to the Labor Day weekend. The Johnsons, Sue, and I had the opportunity to minister at a Bible conference center located just north of Colorado Springs, CO.    We ministered to, none other than, an Ethiopian church.  Almost all of the adults had emigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia, and some of them could not even speak English.  As I was teaching, I wondered if Philip had an effect on these people through the instructing of just one man, the Ethiopian eunuch.

I did not travel to Nebraska to instruct my friend about creation and Genesis, but I believe he was led by the Lord to travel over 500 miles to come and see me.  I wonder what effect he will have on the people in his area, including friends and family, with his increased knowledge of Scripture.  God loves all people and He wants them to come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

 

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 Evangelism

 

Looking back over this summer’s camps and VBS programs… we had a wonderful year.  We had a full summer with a number of different teaching opportunities.  Many of the campers either trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior, rededicated their lives to the LORD, or just had a great time of discipleship.

I have discovered using creation evangelism is a wonderful way to explain the gospel, and to proclaim the true character of God.  Using Genesis and creation science as our teaching tools, the students discovered interesting information about God and science.

In Genesis chapter one, God the Creator, demonstrates His great power and intelligence in His creation.

In Genesis chapter two, God reveals He is the Law Giver by giving Adam a commandment.  He is also viewed as the humble servant by making a very special place (the Garden of Eden) for man to live. God wants the best for mankind, so He supplies and meets every need for the man and woman.  We see the same characteristic with the Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ, when He washes the smelly, dirty feet of His apostles.

Then in Genesis chapter three, God reveals Himself as the Savior.  Adam eats of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thus bringing death and sin into the world (1 Cor. 15:22 – For as in Adam all die,…).  The expression, ‘surely die,’ means to be physically put to death.  Adam and the Woman are to physically die on the day that Adam eats of the fruit, because this is what the law demands and God, as the just judge, must carry out the law.  But, God as the loving God that He is allows a substitute sacrifice.  Adam and the Woman were covered with coats of skin.  Which means innocent animals became substitutes and died, so the man and the woman would live, thus appeasing the law.

Being led to Christ through Creation Evangelism.

Being led to Christ through Creation Evangelism.

We know from Scripture that the death of animals does not take away sin and death, but God (‘The Word’ John 1:1, 14) takes on human flesh and dies for our sins.  He knows we can’t save ourselves, so the Servant of servants, Jesus Christ, does a task that no human being can do, die on the cross to take away our sins.  I believe this is God’s greatest act of love and servanthood.  All we have to do is trust in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection to have our sins forgiven.  It is all very simple.

When the campers understand the meaning of Christ’s death through creation evangelism, they realize their sinful state and believe!  Glory!

 

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.

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.

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.

Dinosaurs at DIA

 

Pioneer Bible Camp 2Pioneer Bible Camp just continued to get better.  The campers were just getting started and began asking even more questions.   I believe in part because I took the time to partake in some of their activities. A wise man I knew from Minnesota once said, “people do not care what you know until they know that you care.”  How true!

Most of the counselors attending Pioneer Bible Camp are from Bible schools and colleges.  It was an encouragement to dialogue with the counselors as well as the campers.  One counselor made the observation that by reading Genesis literally it would help prevent him from falling into false doctrines and also help him to defend the faith.  One camper expressed his excitement in planning to attend a Bible school so he could learn even more about Scripture.  Another said his goal was to focus on becoming a godly man, and to prepare himself for whatever God has planned for him.  It is always exciting to see young people get excited about the Word!

After I finished teaching at Pioneer Bible Camp, I departed as soon as I could for a six and half hour drive home.  I arrived home at 11:00 pm to unload and re-pack in preparation for my next speaking trip to West Virginia. My plane departed Saturday morning at 9:30 am, and I would not arrive at the airport in Charleston, WV, until 11:30 pm. I had a number of long delays along the way.

Dinosaurs and DIAOne such layover was in Denver, where I met a father and his two young daughters.  They also had been waiting for quite some time to catch a plane.  His daughters were getting bored.  We got to talking and I informed him that I taught about dinosaurs.  His girls had a number of questions about them, so I did my dinosaur PowerPoint program to answer their questions.  The father had so many of his questions answered that he thought this information would be valuable for his church.  You just never know when you may have a teaching opportunity that helps someone to have a better understanding about God and His creation.  I thank God for such opportunities.

 

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.

Pioneer Bible Camp

 

Pioneer Bible Camp 1Recently, I had the privilege of teaching at Pioneer Bible Camp, which is located in the mountains near Eden, UT.  I had never been to this camp, so I did not know what to expect.  Upon arrival, I discovered it was a delightful camp nestled on the side of a mountain.  A beautiful environment.

There were about sixty upper high school campers in attendance, plus about twenty camp staff, which made it a nice sized group.  The teaching was focused on Genesis and its scientific content.  But the teaching was not just focused on the science, some was about events recorded in Genesis that still have an impact on our world and lives today.  In other words, to truly understand what is happening in the world around us you have to understand many historic events in Genesis.

Just in teaching the intro and the initial foundational information leading up to Genesis, the campers were already excited.  And only midway through the week, the campers were asking great questions about Genesis, and not Genesis only, but also many other portions in Scripture.  There is a hunger for deep and intensive Bible study and the related scientific topics.  I believe young people are eager to hear truth and are tired of the abundance of watered down Bible programs.  I am usually the last one to finish my meal, because of all the questions the campers are asking.  I also taught additional material in the evenings to anyone who had questions or just wanted to know more.

Pioneer Bible Camp HikeNot all of my time was spent in teaching. I also like to mingle with the campers and get involved in their games… if the time allows.  I was able to hike with the campers to the top of a nearby mountain, which gave me additional opportunities to talk with them and answer lingering questions.

I also had the chance to participate in some paint balls games, which I haven’t played for about twenty years.  I discovered I make a better target than a marksman.  It was fun and a good time to get to know many of the campers.  I am always eager to see what new questions will be asked.

On one morning, the temperature dropped down to 36 degrees!  Most of the campers, counselors (and even the speaker) were freezing up.  But the testimonies of the campers helped to warm a person’s heart.  One camper commented that he had never heard the creation/Genesis science message before.  He could not believe he could have fallen for the evolutionary lie. The Genesis science message fit perfectly with the observational evidence.  I am constantly intrigued to see what the LORD will do with these campers!

Check back soon for more reflections on the Pioneer Bible Camp as well as what happened at the airport on the way back.

 

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.