Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens

Next May will be the 40th Anniversary of the Mount St. Helens Eruption which occurred on May 18th, 1980. At the time geologists knew very little about volcanoes or the possibility of a lateral blast… it killed 57 people, most in areas outside the restricted zone. It is the most devastating eruption to occur in U.S. History. There have been many volcanic eruptions, but this one happened in an area near modern western civilization so it was well studied and documented.

We got to meet Paul Taylor over at the Mount St. Helens Creation Center and he took us on several excursions.

If I wrote about everything we did there this post would be too long, so here are the highlights.

East Side Excursion

Tree killed by heat from the volcano blast
Tree killed by heat from the volcano blast

The green trees have all grown since the volcano. Following the landslide the pyroclastic flow blasted out at speeds up to 670 mph, knocking down 230 square miles of trees. But the tree above was far enough away it wasn’t knocked down. It was just killed from the heat.

Tree uprooted with main root ball intact
Tree uprooted with main root ball intact

All over the place… and I mean everywhere we can see trees with rootballs uprooted and torn from their roots having been knocked over by the blast. We saw miles and miles of devastation like this. One photo doesn’t do it justice.

Uprooted trees from Mt. St. Helens
More uprooted trees, notice the fallen trees in the background

In the picture below as I was looking at this from a distance I thought there was ice on the right-side of the lake. But looking through my binoculars it’s not ice! Those are logs! We took a hike to take a closer look…

Spirit Lake
Spirit Lake
Hike to Spirit Lake
Kris and Eli going down to Spirit Lake

Hiking down to Spirit Lake

Boy under a fallen tree
Eli under a fallen tree over the path

Family in front of floating logs on Spirit Lake
Ben (me), Kris, and Eli in front of the floating logs on Spirit Lake

The landslide off Mount St. Helens rushed into Spirit Lake at 110+ mph sloshing the water out of Spirit Lake onto a hill with thousands of trees. …which had just been sheared or uprooted many with root ball intact by the initial blast of superheated volcano ash and gas seconds earlier. The landslide rose the lake level by 200ft, then the water returned to the lake taking an avalanche of logs with it. These logs I took a photo of have been floating on the lake for nearly 40 years.

Floating Logs on Spirit Lake
Floating Logs on Spirit Lake

Sonar and divers confirm that many of the logs have sunk and are in various positions at the bottom of Spirit Lake. Since logs sunk at different times they are buried in various layers of sediment.. and they’re spread out all over the lake as if they were a forest. All of this from one event nearly 40 years ago. You’ll notice that this looks very similar to the Yellowstone Petrified Forest where trees are found in different layers of sediment, often with the root ball attached but no roots.

Trees shown in different layers at Mt. St. Helens Spirit Lake
Trees sunk to the bottom and sit vertically. As more sediment accumulates the trees could be mistaken for growing in place at different time periods for different layers, but we know none of the trees grew here. Graphic Credit: Theresa Valentine / US Forest Service

What’s happening in Spirit Lake doesn’t fit the evolutionary narrative of millions of years. This Yellowstone Park article https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/yellowstones-petrified-forest still claims that trees found in multiple layers indicate forests over different time periods over tens of thousands of years …and of course it all happened 50 million years ago. The evidence doesn’t bear this out. We know the petrified forest doesn’t need 50 million years to form. We know it can happen very quickly …because we are seeing how it happened today!

Mount St. Helens Creation Center

If you’re in the Mount St. Helens area, you should stop by the Mount St. Helens Creation Center in Castle Rock, WA. There you may find biblical creationist Paul Taylor who is more than happy to answer questions about a variety of topics. There’s a video presentation area where talks are given, comfy chairs and a couch to sit in, complimentary coffee, a few book displays featuring his books as well as other creationists, some free brochures, and a number of exhibits and displays. We were only there an hour in total but could have easily spent half the day there. The center was quite busy before Paul had to shut it down for the excursions.

Benjamin Bryan and Paul Taylor at the Mount St. Helens Creation Center
Paul Taylor and Ben
Eli and Solar System
Eli Found a Solar System display…
Visitors at the Mount St. Helens Creation Center
Visitors at the Mt. St. Helens Creation Center
Seating Area at the Mount St. Helens Creation Center
Sitting area
Noak's Ark Model at the Mount St. Helens Creation Center
Model Ark
Keynote Speech by Paul Taylor for International Creation Day 2018

Lava Tubes

Between Excursion days we explored the Ape Cave and Lava Tubes

Lava Tubes
Eli Descending a Lava Tube
Lava Tube
Why is it taking you so long, dad?
Lava Tube
Oh good, he made it.
Lava Tube Map
Ape Cave
Ape Cave

West Side Excursion

This is the most popular excursion.

Near Mount St. Helens

This area is a national monument so there is no reforesting or replanting by humans, everything you see is a completely natural which shows how quickly plants recover. A lot of mud flowed through here.

Castle Lake
Castle Lake

Castle Lake didn’t exists before 1980… it was created by the eruption.

Mud from Mt. St. Helens cresting the Johnston Ridge

The landslide that was traveling so fast and far it crested this ridge (the smaller hills are from the landslide). We are walking on the Johnston ridge in this photo near the observatory about 5 miles from the volcano.

Lupine Flowers

Lupine is important to help the area recover, this flower helps other plants grow in volcanic areas by taking nitrogen out of the air and then sharing it with other plants through roots.

Canyon's with Rock Layers
Canyons with Layers much like the Grand Canyon

For as long as I can remember secular scientists have claimed layers of rock such as you see in the Grand Canyon must have formed over millions of years. This is not observational science, but an assumption made to fit the evolutionary narrative. From the Johnston Ridge with a pair of binoculars I can see the layers. If nobody where there to observe the Mount St. Helens evolutionary scientists today would say the rock layers here took millions of years to form just like they say the Grand Canyon did. But for Mount St. Helens we where there to observe it so we know how old these layers are. 25 feet of organized matter was laid down by the volcano in a very short time. How long did it take to form these 200 (conservatively) layers? 3 hours.

Even today, secular scientists will still defend a millions of years timeline for the grand canyon. E.g. https://geology.com/articles/age-of-the-grand-canyon.shtml When I was at the Johnston Observatory I didn’t see any displays or comments discussing the rapid formation of these layers. It’s one of the most fascinating features here but the only display you’ll find on it is at the Creation Center.

Graphic showing Mount St. Helens rock layers compared to Grand Canyon

Paul Taylor Conference at Kootenai Church May 2020

Paul Taylor is coming to speak at Kootenai Community Church in May of 2020 (which coincides with the 40th Year Anniversary of the eruption). If you’re up in North Idaho it will be well worth your time to attend. I expect registration for the conference will open up sometime in 2020 so watch the main website for registration if you’re interested (you can also leave a comment saying you’re interested and I’ll email you when registration opens).

If you’re interested in the Excursions contact the Mount St. Helens Creation Center to book one: https://mshcreationcenter.org/7ws2/visit/excursions/

Final Thoughts

One person that was on the excursion with us was there right before it happened and actually had taken pictures months before the eruption. It was also neat to talk to some of the locals who witnessed the event and how it personally impacted them. I even talked to some people in North Idaho who remember a strange cloud interrupting a sunny day and covering the area with ash. It’s fascinating to listen to all their stories.

This was a great trip, fun for our family and a good learning experience. It was also enjoyable because I didn’t check work email the entire time (I did take my laptop just in case and my coworkers knew they could text or call for anything critical). They didn’t have to contact me once (thanks for everyone who worked hard to make that happen).

During the excursion Paul reminded us that 2 Peter 3 tells us in the last days that scoffers will deny two events: Creation and the Flood.

For they deliberately overlook this fact,
that the heavens existed long ago,
and the earth was formed out of water
and through water by the word of God,
and that by means of these the world that then existed
was deluged with water and perished.

2 Peter 3:5-6

You’ll notice from 2 Peter 3 that overlooking Creation and the Flood isn’t a result of ignorance. It is deliberate. It is not that there isn’t compelling evidence. Evidence is staring the evolutionary scientist in the face. Observational science won’t change them because they already know the truth and suppress it. Rather, it is an issue of lack of belief in Jesus Christ. So while the evidence found at Mount St. Helens has value and confirms the position of biblical creationists, evidence is not what we base our beliefs on. Rather, we base our beliefs on God’s Word. Evidence is not the means that will transform an unbeliever into a believer. Rather God has chosen to use the power of the gospel for that task.

Jupiter – First Attempt at Stargazing with a Telescope

On clear nights I would often take Eli outside to look at the stars when he was a toddler. I told him the names of a few stars, he asked me to tell him the names of all the stars. I found out quickly young eyes are better for looking at stars, he could see a lot more of them than me. This evening we got a chance to look at Jupiter and two of it’s moons using a telescope!

Right now it’s close enough you can see Jupiter’s moons with a good pair of binoculars.

Jupiter and two moons
Jupiter and 2 moons

Finding Jupiter was the easiest part. Early evening it was right where it should be.

Jupiter

The most difficult part was pointing the telescope at that star. We borrowed a telescope (thanks Sean!) and after lots of randomly fiddling with the various undocumented knobs I finally figured out which ones did X another X, Y, Z, Y again, another Y, a yawing Y, and some sort of arc, and got it pointed towards Jupiter!

The earth of course is rotating so I had to re-align it every minute or so. I think it would be a great idea for someone to make a telescope with built in gyroscopes so they will stay pointed in a particular direction.

Setting up a Telescope
There’s a lot of knobs on this telescope. Just tell me when you see something in the scope!
Looking through a telescope
Kris looking through the scope while Eli looks through the spotter scope.
Jupiter and a moon using Pixel Night Mode
Pixel Night Mode

Eli looking through telescope
Trying to move away from the light pollution.
Jupiter and two moons
Another shot of Jupiter and two moons.
Jupiter and moon positions

I’m guessing the moons we saw were Europa and Callisto since Io and Ganymede would have been transiting Jupiter at the time we were looking.

Jupiter and 2 moons

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the expanse proclaims his handiwork.


Psalm 19:1-6 ESV

Dr. Jason Lisle Conference

When Eli was 4, Kris and I needed to keep him occupied while we packed our house up ahead of a move… so I found a video by Answers in Genesis and put it on. Eli discovered an interest in the solar system. He liked it.

A lot.

For the next several years he studied the planets.

Made drawings of planets

Created the asteroid belt…

Made the solar system out of balls…

Made the solar system out of dinosaurs…

Represented it with Legos…

Another Lego Solar System…

Drew Orbits.

His interest in astronomy has not waned so we were excited when we found out Dr. Jason Lisle was coming to our church for a conference. It was held last Friday/Saturday and one of the best conferences I’ve attended.

Dr. Lisle is a Christian astrophysicist. Has held positions at Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research (ICR), and now the Biblical Science Institute. One of my favorite papers by him is about the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention and I’ve enjoyed his debate with Hugh Ross and read a number of Jason Lisle’s Books over the years.

His sessions covered a foundation on Genesis, Astronomy, Science, Fractals, and a few Q&A sessions (he answered Kris’s questions about the multiverse and Kuiper Belt). The conference was recorded so if you’re interested you can watch it below:

Eli’s second love is math, so his favorite part was the session on how God thinks about numbers, which spent a good deal on fractals on Day 2.

Earlier this year while attending a home school curriculum conference I was reminded that there is no subject that can be taught from a neutral perspective. You are either for God or against God. Even math. You can either teach it from a secular perspective which is to ignore God and avoid the question of where math comes from or perhaps try to come up with some explanation about why math exists and even works; or you can teach it from the worldview that that all things including abstract things like math are created by God and therefore have beauty and reflect His nature. By studying math we are discovering what God thinks about numbers and would therefore expect to find beauty in numbers. There is no neutral position. Dr. Lisle’s presentation made this more apparent.


“I was merely thinking God’s thoughts after him.” – Johannes Kepler

Programming Management & Leadership Books

There are plenty of books on managing people; but there are few books targeting management of software development, and even fewer aimed at people who got promoted into leadership positions with no management skills.  I’ve read countless books looking for resources in that area…  I can find plenty of books about how to manipulate people or promote yourself (and I’ve had plenty of training to that affect) but those are not the books I’m looking for.

I want real authentic leadership and practical management.  Below you will find the best of what I’ve found over the last four years. And unlike some “Best Books for Programming Managers” and “Top 10 books on Leadership” lists you’ll find online… I actually read every book listed below. 

I should also note that even if you aren’t in a position of management these books should be beneficial.  Whether you have the position or not, everyone has the opportunity to lead.

Managing the Unmanageable

Managing The Unmanageable Book

“Most successful programming managers are former programmers: They can quickly grasp whether a developer is on track through the most informal of conversations, without having to ferret out the assessment through long strings of questions that can feel pestering.”



Managing the Unmanageable By Mickey W. Mantle and Ron Lichty (2012)

Managing the Unmanageable is the comprehensive handbook to gain a variety of insights and a tool set to manage software development teams.  I didn’t find it lacking coverage on any topic.

It rightly points out how managing programmers is like managing artists–programming is a creative job so you can’t manage that the same way you would manage most other jobs.

It goes over how to build relationships with and manage HR, your boss, other departments, etc.  How to define developer levels, how not to do incentives (which can often be more demotivating than motivating), job descriptions, how to conduct interviews, build culture, motivate developers, etc.  This is a wide book in what it covers.  The vastness of topics is unmatched by any other management book I’ve read.  It may only devote a few pages to some subjects but I haven’t found an area that it doesn’t cover at all. Even for areas it doesn’t go into great depth it references sources for further study.

I think this is the best resource for a new manager to get a comprehensive overview of every topic related to managing programmers.  What I really like about the book is from the experience of the authors it anticipates and provides guidance on a lot of challenges I had to deal with–reading this book helped me proactively plan how to deal with those situations.

For me, reading Managing the Unmanageable is like sitting down at a coffee shop with some seasoned managers and listening to their experience and wisdom.  Today I still use it as reference book.

Peopleware

Peopleware Book on Productive Projects and Teams

“The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature.” 

“Most managers are willing to concede the idea that they’ve got more people worries than technical worries.  But they seldom manage that way.  They manage as though technology were their principal concern.  They spend their time puzzling over the most convoluted and most interesting puzzles that their people will have to solve, almost as though they themselves were going to do the work rather than manage it.”



Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (3rd Edition) by Tim DeMarco & Timothy Lister (originally published in 1987, I read the 3rd edition published in 2013)

Peopleware, as it’s title suggests is all about the people aspect of managing software developers.  It’s not a generic management book.  Most of it only applies to managing creative and intellectual workers.  It covers why programmers are distinct from and must be managed differently than other types of jobs, such as accountants or manufacturing workers.  The book covers topics like the importance of allowing time to think on the job, giving teams a sense of elitism to increase productivity, creating environments where teams can naturally form and jell, the importance of an interruption free office environment, why the surest way to improve productivity is by focusing on quality.

I learned environmental factors for a programmer cause a 10 to 1 performance difference.  A large section deals with the work environment.  Office design, layouts, how bad cubicles are, the importance of natural light, office size, privacy, etc.  This is a timeless classic.  It would benefit any manager, executive, head of HR, architect, or programmer (even if you aren’t in a management position, this book will help you manage yourself).

The Mythical Man-Month

The Mythical Man-Month

“Why is programming fun? What delights may its practitioner expect as his reward? First is the sheer joy of making things. As the child delights in his mud pie, so the adult enjoys building things, especially things by his own design. I think this delight must be an image of God’s delight in making things, a delight shown in the distinctness and newness of each leaf and each snowflake.”

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, Anniversary Edition (2nd Edition) by Fred Brooks (originally published in 1975, I read the 20th Anniversary edition published in 1995)

This is a collection of essays about managing and organizing large software projects. Most important is Brooks’ observation that adding more man-power to a late software project will make it even later. My favorite observation of his was how the most productive teams are smaller because of the communication overhead, you only get fractional gains by increasing the size of large teams. Although pre-Agile, many of his ideas influenced Agile project management. He was well ahead of his time. This is a classic. 

“Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”

The Conviction to Lead

The Conviction to Lead

“Whenever Christian leaders serve, in the church or in a secular world, their leadership should be driven by distinctively Christian conviction.”

“Leadership is all about putting the right beliefs into action, and knowing, on the basis of convictions, what those right beliefs and actions are.  This book is written with the concern that far too much of what passes for leadership today is mere management.  Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you cannot really lead.”

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters By Albert Mohler, 2014

This was not an easy find. I read fluffy leadership book after fluffy leadership book… and finally read Mohler’s book at my dad’s recommendation.  It has far more substance on leadership than anything else I’ve read.  Where others give you mechanics, tools and methods, Mohler gives you conviction and motivation based on well grounded beliefs.  It is not written just to pastors, nor just to leaders of Christian institutions (although this appears to be the main focus), but also to Christians who happen to be leaders in secular organizations–and that’s quite rare for a book on leadership written by a devout Christian.

Mohler’s book is practical because it provides the foundation for why and how Christians should be leading and the basis for leading in a secular world.  I would say the book is primarily written to C-level, but almost all of it I was able to apply to a smaller realm for lower levels of management if I limited the scope to my area of influence.  This is a good book for any Christian in a position of leadership.

The Diet of Worms And Five Solas

Happy 501st Reformation Day! (and Happy Halloween)

In 1521 Luther was summoned to the city of Worms to be tried for heresy.  Expecting an opportunity to debate Luther willingly went.  But instead found no discussion would take place.

He was asked to answer two questions:

First question: With his writings on a table in front of him he was asked if the books were his.  He answered in a barely audible voice, “The books are all mine, and I have written more.”

Second question: “Do you defend them all, or do you care to reject a part?”

Luther asked for time to think about it.

He was given one night.

Diet of Worms

The next day, Luther returned and was asked again, “Do you recant?”  Luther tried to explain his views but was quickly shutdown.  The official asked him to answer the question simply.  Luther answered:

Since then your serene majesty and your lordships seek a simple answer, I will give it in this manner, not embellished: Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, for I do not trust either in the Pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradict themselves, I am bound to the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.  I cannot do otherwise, here I stand.  May God help me, Amen.

Luther threw up his arms making the gesture of a victorious knight, slipped out and went into hiding.   Obviously, Luther was pronounced a heretic.  The Reformation had started.

The central issue of the Reformation is this question.  How does a person get right with God?

The answer to this question can be summarized into the 5 principles below:

Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone

Scripture claims to be inspired by God.  It is without error, authoritative, and sufficient.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

There is the ever changing doctrines, beliefs, and ideas of man.  We have various political views, ideologies, philosophies, worldviews, and thoughts that change drastically every few hundred years.   Then there is Scripture.  It stands unchanging.  It has been studied, scrutinized, and examined more carefully than any other publication in history–for 1600 years.  It is God’s Word.  Many claim the Bible is full or errors.  Many claim it has been translated multiple times and the contents changed like the telephone game.  However, the method of Scripture transmission through the ages has a consistency check to detect and correct changes.

Imagine, you create a file.  Then you make 10 copies of that file onto floppy disks, CDs, or USB drives, and give it to your friends, they each make 10 copies and give it to their friends, and it gets distributed throughout the world.  1000 years into the future you will find hundreds, maybe thousands of copies of the data.  They might be imperfect–you may have partial discs, bitrot, on some of the copies someone may have lost power in the middle of a copy and it corrupted or skipped data, some people made malicious changes, not all the copies agree with each other.  But even without the original you can know the contents of the original file.  As long as you have enough copies and a history of those copies you can reconstruct the original.  Even if mistakes are made in all of the first 10 copies of the original (as long as the same mistake is not made in all 10) you can reproduce the original–like a RAIDZ array can reconstruct damaged or missing data by using the parity data from the other drives.

P52Scripture was transmitted through the ages in such a manner that it could not be changed from the original undetected.  Even though some copies of scripture were damaged, missing parts, had a copy mistake, etc.  Most discrepancies are minor and don’t change the meaning of the text or change any doctrine.  With vast geographic distances and no modern means of communication there would be no way to collude a malicious change.  When we do see a difference between various families of manuscripts, we know what changed.  That means we know what the words of God actually are.

I’ve read on random internet forums that the Bible is a translation of a translation of a translation and so much has been lost in all those translations.  That’s not true at all.  Most English Bibles are a direct translation into English made by a team of scholars who have access to the available copies of the manuscripts in the original languages from various regions.  The Bible is translated directly from the original languages written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic into English so you can read it.  The English Bible you have today, if made by a trustworthy translator, is reliable.  God promises His word will stand forever:

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”  — Isaiah 40:8 ESV

Sola Gratia – Grace Alone

Man cannot save himself.  God saves sinners.  We are absolutely incapable of pleasing God.  We have all sinned against a Holy God.  When God created man, He created us in His image–we are held up to God’s standard of righteousness and because of sin we all fall short.  Ask yourself these questions: have you ever said God’s name in vain, have you ever hated someone, have you ever stolen, have you lied, have you ever looked at a woman (or man) with lust?  Answer those questions honestly.  Have you done any of those?  “Yeah, but everyone else does it…” doesn’t matter about everyone else.  What about you?  If you stood before God today, and He was judging you by the Ten Commandments, would He say you are Guilty or Not Guilty?   I don’t get a pass on this either, I am as guilty of breaking God’s law as anyone.

There is nothing you can do to get a not guilty verdict.  You may decide that from this day forward you’re going to do good, you’ll stop sinning, love others, give away your money, feed the poor, go to church, etc.  It doesn’t matter.  God considers the good things you do like a polluted garment (Isaiah 64:6).  Your “goodness” is worthless to God.  You will still go to Hell.

As it is written:
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.  — Romans 3:10 ESV

One of the most important distinctions between false religions and Christianity is this:  false religions teach that you can earn merit.  Essentially they teach you must do good things to get points from God to earn your salvation–as if life is some sort of video game.  Doing good to get to heaven is probably one of the largest misconceptions about Christianity.  The Bible teaches the exact opposite:  You cannot do anything to save yourself from Hell.   But, there is God’s Grace.  God’s unmerited favor towards mankind:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. —  Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

Sola Fide – Faith Alone

By faith, and faith alone are we justified (made holy) before God.  When Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty for our sins.

Justification is about our legal position towards God.  The means by which we are justified is through Jesus’s death–when God looks at us, He sees the perfect life of Jesus.  He sees that Christ has paid the price for our sins–Jesus’s righteousness is imputed to our account–which means through no power of our own we are declared righteous before God–despite being imperfect.  This is what our faith is in–and by faith we do not mean a blind faith, but confident belief in what God has promised in Scripture, and God’s ability and integrity to keep those promises.  That is what we must have faith in.  And faith alone in Jesus Christ is the means by which we are justified so that we can have eternal life.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 5:1 ESV

Solus Christus – Christ Alone

Jesus is the God-Man.  There is none like Him.  He is eternal, existing outside time and creation with God the Father, He is the Creator of the Universe, He is God Himself, the second person of the Trinity.  ~2000 years ago He stepped into His own Creation and became a man and now possesses two natures: God and Man.  Jesus lived the perfect life–the righteous life we could not live as a man.  And took the punishment we deserve for our sins: death.  Christ is the only means of salvation.   Christ’s humility cannot be overstated–we are talking about God the Son, who has always pre-existed with God the Father in the presence of God’s glory coming to earth to be humiliated and die–if Jesus had come to earth as King and ruled the world, lived in the best place and had the finest the world had to offer with servants at His side to take care of any need or task, it would be an insult compared to the glory He deserves–yet he came to die.

A common misconception is Jesus’s death was some work of Satan and something outside of God’s control.  No.  God sent Jesus to earth specifically to die for our sins to offer us salvation from our sins.

Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and then rose again.  There is no other religion, no other method to obtain salvation, other than Jesus to become right with God:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. — Acts 4:12 ESV

Soli Deo Gloria – To The Glory of God Alone

The salvation of those who love God is an amazing, beautiful work of God.  It is not something we can claim even partial credit for.

I have heard the analogy of salvation being like God throwing a life saver out into the ocean to one screaming for help and all one has to do is reach out and grab it to be saved.  That is exactly what the work of salvation is not like.

We are not drowning begging for help.  Rather, we are all enemies of God, storming His castle, with no inclination of good in us, and God chooses to save us through the Gospel–which is the good news that Jesus Christ died on the cross to take the penalty for your sins.  By believing, by having faith in Him, you will have eternal life.  There is nothing for us to do in regards to our salvation, because the glory is God’s, and God’s alone.

I am the Lord; that is my name;
    my glory I give to no other. —  Isaiah 42:8a ESV

For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.  — Romans 11:36 ESV

Jack-O-Lantern

Genesis and the State of the Culture

Kris and I finished watching the Genesis and the State of the Culture speech that Ken Ham and Dr. Georgia Purdom gave at the University of Central Oklahoma.

A Battle of FoundationsTo give some context, the LGBT group at UCO tried to stop Ken Ham from giving this speech.  At some point the student body that invited him was pressured into revoking the invitation [1].   Later Ham was re-invited by UCO President Don Betz.

This is a well done overview of what Christians believe and why it is reasonable.   Ken ham gets to the heart of the issue which is foundational and shows how making your foundation God’s Word or Naturalism affects ones beliefs on race, gender, abortion, etc.   After Ham’s presentation, Dr. Purdom makes the distinction between Natural Selection and Evolution (this is an important difference that even my University professors were not all aware of) and gives several examples of how Evolutionists do not have a mechanism to generate novel traits which is necessary for molecules to man Evolution.

I highly recommend watching it:

“So, one of the things I am saying to you is from a biblical perspective we’ve got the answer to racism.  We’re all descended from one man.  We’re all equal before God.  We’re all sinners.  So we should be treating each other as people who are all family.”

— Ken Ham

 

“There are evolutionists that still say junk DNA is junk even though there have been multiple observable science research studies showing it is not, showing it has function.  It shows you that this is a worldview issue.  Even though the evidence is staring them in the face, they refuse to believe.”

— Dr. Georgia Purdom

 

[1] https://answersingenesis.org/religious-freedom/university-denies-free-speech/

Eli’s First Gun | Daisy Buck

I bought Eli his first gun, a Daisy Buck Model 105.

Eli holding Daisy Buck BB Gun

It is very similar in function to lever action rifles (lever action works the same, cross-bolt safety is the same) so it’s a great starter gun to teach proper firearm handling and safety.    It was $18 at Walmart but has quality where it counts.  The stock is real wood with an engraved image of a buck.   The barrel and receiver are metal.  The only plastic part is the lever but it’s rugged and shouldn’t break.  If properly cared for I don’t see why it wouldn’t last several generations.

Daisy BB Rifle
Daisy Model 105 Buck

There’s no recoil and it’s quiet enough to shoot in the backyard.  The lever action does take some effort to work.  Eli struggled with it at first but after a couple tries he doesn’t have any trouble cocking it himself.  The gun shoots 0.177 caliber BBs which run a couple of dollars for 2,400 rounds.

I found out Daisy has been around since 1886 with an interesting history.  They’ve been making air guns for a long time.  They started out as a windmill company that started offering a free air rifle to farmers with the purchase of a windmill.  A few years thereafter they stopped making windmills.

Daisy advertises it for age 10 and up, I think Daisy Red Ryderthe age is listed for legal reasons more than size.  For fit I’d say it’s sized for 6 to 10 year olds at 30 inches long.  For younger kids new to guns the shorter length will be easier to manage.  If I was buying for someone over age 10 I’d probably opt for the infamous Daisy 1938 Red Ryder which has a longer stock and is 35 inches long.

BB’s can ricochet so keeping a safe distance from the target as well as shooting glasses are a must.  The instruction manual has directions to build a target stuffed with newspapers with magazines at the back that will absorb BBs.  I placed the target in front of my shed but in case he misses the target I set behind the target a sheet of plywood which I angled down to cause any ricochets to bounce down into the ground.  So far this has worked well.  For targets we use milk jugs or print our own.

I think it’s good to teach children how to use guns when they’re mature enough.  It gives them a chance to develop responsibility and character while having fun and learning a useful and important skill.

The NRA has a great Gun Safety Rules page.  Before Eli could have ammo I taught him 3 safety rules:

  1. Always point the gun in a safe direction especially away from people, even when it’s unloaded or the safety is on.
  2. Always leave the safety on until you’re pointed at the target.   I make him turn the safety on before he puts it down or hands it over to me.
  3. Always keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

I’ll teach him more as he gains skill.  We treat the BB gun the same as my firearms.   The gun is unloaded after each use and is stored in a safe location where nobody else can get to it, separate from the ammo.  I think it’s good to teach proper gun safety and responsibility from the start.  The best way to do that is by example.

Snowcicles | Hoarfrost or Rime?

Beauty in God’s creation.  Sunday morning I walked outside to see all my trees covered in small inch long gravity defying icicles.   But they’re not icicles.

Snow spikes all over treeClick on the images to get a larger size.

Snow SpikesTouching one they’re more like snow than ice.  I’m not sure if this is hoarfrost or rime.  It melted away as soon as the Sun came out.  I’ve never seen anything like it before.

 

 

Merry Christmas 2017

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Trees

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

— John 1:1-18 ESV

500th Reformation Day

 

Happy 500th Reformation Day!  The Reformation did not begin with Luther.  Rather it can be traced back as far as 1200 A.D. with Peter Waldo (who was forced to live in hiding), then John Wycliff (labeled a heretic), and John Hus (who was burned at the stake).  All these men realized the Roman Catholic Church teachings were contrary to Scripture, and worked to put Scripture in the hands of common people… which Rome feared would undermine their influence and authority.

After Darkness.  Light.

Gutenberg Press Replica: CC BY SA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Aodhdubh

500 years ago Martin Luther posted the Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, also known as the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle.  Although Luther intended to debate these issues and wanted to reform the already divided Catholic Church, it resulted in the Protestant split from Rome.  Thanks to new technology, the Guternberg press, Luther’s writings were widely distributed.  Although I wouldn’t agree with much of Luther’s ideas, I would agree with him on the main issue of the Reformation about how men can be justified before God.  The Roman Catholic Church erred by teaching that justification is by faith plus doing good works.  That is, that salvation and standing before God is not entirely dependent on God’s work, but by God’s work plus our works.  As a result of that unbiblical teaching you get many of the other issues surrounding the reformation (such as indulgences), but the central theme is how man can be saved.  Luther taught from his understanding of scripture that salvation is by faith alone.  There is no good work a sinful man can do to be saved, but rather it is God who saves man by His grace.  There is nothing one can do to improve their standing with God.  Even the best of our good works are tainted in sin, worthless to God.

Rather, our salvation relies on Christ who died on the cross to take the penalty for our sins, and by faith, believing in that work that Christ did, sinful people can be justified before a holy and righteous God.   The glory for our salvation does not belong to us even partly; but solely to God.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

Reformation Resources

Sola Fide, by Faith alone.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.

Jack-O-Lantern

And of course, Happy Halloween: here’s Eli’s third Jack-O-Lantern:

Pumpkin

Jack O Lantern