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Written by: C. W. Booth

August 8, 2007

Road Trip to the Creation Museum

A few weeks ago my little family went on a road trip to the Creation Museum. Below are my thoughts on that jaunt. Eventually I will post this road trip review as an article on thefaithfulword.org, at which time I will include some of the more interesting photographs.

Previous Experiences Color My Expectations

Natural history museums are typically, by definition, galleries of death. Dinosaur skeletons wired together, stuffed animals posed but lifeless, wrapped mummified corpses of deceased persons, and tableaus of ape men mesmerized by fire and stone tools. Some museums are more polished than others, but the end result is about the same, an exploration of death through the ages with no promise for the future except more of the same kind of death as is on display.

It is with that experience base that my wife, teenage son, and myself visited the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum (http://answersingenesis.org and http://www.creationmuseum.org ), in Petersburg, Kentucky, near Cincinnati, Ohio. We were not prepared for what we encountered.

Beyond Expectations

Perhaps the first impression one gets, and retains throughout, is that of professionalism. A first glance at the exterior of the building also yields an air of intrigue, as it invokes a feeling not unlike the atmosphere generated by the visitorís center from the original Jurassic Park movie.

Your second impression is likely to be, "This place is popular!" We visited on a Tuesday, and saw impressive numbers of people. A staff member commented that the museum does not really get hopping until the weekend. Really? The ticket line moved surprisingly fast in spite of the fact that at least 50 people were ahead of us. They are obviously well staffed, the staff well trained, and, did I mention, professional.

A third impression a visitor gets is that the place is friendly. Not "Disney friendly" (which I equate to a veneer of friendliness imposed by Marketing), but the staff and volunteers are friendly. They are solicitous of your interests, needs, and impressions. Have a question, just ask a staffer, they really seem to want to help. In fact, consider this gem of customer service planning: Before one enters the ticket line, there is an information desk at which one can ask questions about the museum, tours, prices, and presentation times. When you enter the ticket line, you already know what you want to see, which is probably why the ticket line zooms along.

A Perspective of Hope

Finally, the place is not a gallery of death in the mold of other museums, but attempts to breathe life into the displays. Figurines are painstakingly crafted to appear alive, down to the detail on fingernails. There are certainly fossils (such as that of a perch which died and was buried while in the very act of eating a herring), dinosaur skeletons, and even a casting of the fragments of Lucy, but many of the dinosaur exhibits are animated, allowing one to imagine them as living, breathing, and eating creatures. And more importantly, the exhibits all offer hope for mankind. That seems to be the point of the museum, to offer hope.

Biblical Creation as a Theme

The theme of the museum is biblical creation. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, this is a wonderful place to be introduced. If you are familiar, this is a great place to see many of the concepts modeled, animated, and discussed in a cohesive context.

As a Christian museum, the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented often. In fact, the layout of the museum is predicated on helping visitors to understand that mankind was created in a sinless state, rebelled against God, was cursed, developed rampant wickedness as a high art, was entirely destroyed in the flood with but a remnant preserved via Noah, and the world rebuilt with Israel being the chosen nation by which Christ would come and bring salvation to all mankind.

There are several high quality (professional) audio visual presentations. Do attend these. The Last Adam presentation explores, in part, the execution of Jesus from a Roman soldierís point of view, as well as from Maryís perspective (this presentation was my sonís favorite exhibit in all the museum). Men in White pulls together the combined meaning of all the displays that one has seen in the museum. Men in White also offers some scientific examination of the same evidences used by evolution scientists but demonstrates how the facts favor a creation explanation rather than Darwinian. Men in White also offers some special entertainment that must not be shared until one has experienced the presentation in person.

My personal moment of surprise came when I passed by the tableau of Adam and Eve just after their rebellion. A realistic Eve is sobbing uncontrollably, not just because she has been caught in her first sin, but because her "pets" have been slaughtered by God to provide animal skin clothing, and the corpses of those slain innocent animals are in front of her, a direct consequence of her own sin. This was mankindís first experience with the reality of death. How shocking that must have been, and how emotionally heartbreaking to be aware of oneís own culpability in bringing about the curse to all living beings on the planet.

Perhaps the best presentation, from my perspective, was the last one. We attended the planetarium show. It was a visual treat and a mind bending exercise. This show attempted to demonstrate the scale of the universe as it relates to our little planet. After this experience, you will want to echo with the speaker, "What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?"(Psalms 8:4)

A Ministry

This is a ministry. Each staff member appears to consider their occupation an investment in the ministry. In the "Palm Hall" staff members are actually available to engage in conversation about what people have seen, and to answer questions about creation or salvation. No one is pushy. They just politely stand by to see if anyone has comments or questions.

Though the exhibits and presentations seem targeted toward teens (Men in White) as well as toward adults, there were a large number of small children in attendance. Most of the children seemed quite content to stare at the animatronic dinosaurs as their older companions read about the displays or watched the explanatory videos. When you visit, take a few minutes to let the kids run amok on the floating bridge and the suspension bridge on the nature trails behind the museum. Even my teenage son had to do each bridge twice.

Creation science is no joke. This museum takes the subject seriously, and the Bible is held to as a text describing historical fact. How can we do otherwise? After all, if God did not create, if man did not rebel, if Jesus was not born, if Christ did not die and resurrect in real history, then we have no faith or hope. Our future would be just as bleak as portrayed in the galleries of death at other museums. Salvation is only real if the Scriptures are historically accurate in the events that they explain. If those accounts are mere myth, then so is salvation.

Note: My personal and heartfelt thanks to staff member Tony Ramsek for his insights, hospitality, and very much more, and to Frank Zitzman, our knowledgeable volunteer tour guide. Frank, and his wife, Sue, run a ministry called Troyís Creation House, which provides housing on a donation-only basis to those who would like to travel to visit the Creation Museum: http://troyscreationhouse.com

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Grace to Others

Today, my wife came home and asked me, "What is the definition of Ďgracious speechí?" This is a subject that resides at the core and nerve center of what I have been studying for the past year, and the study is partly an outgrowth of the circumstances of my life over the past decade.

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29)

Grace is: the unearned favor of Christís gift. That is, Christ, His salvation toward us, and all that the abundant life entails, is grace to us.

In a practical application, giving grace to others who hear us means we speak only those things which communicate Christ, and all He has given us to do and say, to others. Our discussions are always Christ-focused. Or, to use a slightly different frame of reference, since Christ is the Word, our dialogue with others ought to always convey the richness of Godís Word and all it seeks to accomplish in us and through us.

The Word is grace. The Word rebukes, reproves, convicts, edifies, instructs, encourages, and challenges. Therefore, gracious speech also rebukes sinful deeds, reproves sinners, convicts others to live holy lives, builds up others to imitate Christ, provides instruction to our friends and family about Christ-like living, offers Godís comfort to the suffering, encourages those who are in trials to remember for Whom they are enduring, and challenges others to commit their ways to the Lord. Gracious speech is all these things, tempered with understanding the other personís need at the moment and calculating what will be of most spiritual benefit to that person to hear from your lips (speaking, simply for the good benefit of another, is the very definition of loving oneís neighbor "in word").

To withhold Christ, the Word of God, or spiritual discussion from another believer is to render your speech ungracious; your speech has lost its salt and is good for literally nothing. Talk which omits grace (which is talk that intentionally excludes spiritual content) is sin; never are we admonished to be ungracious, idle, and empty communicators (Ephesians 5:6, 1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:16). Salt-flavored speech is filled with grace--reproofs, rebukes, encouragements, instructions, and encouragements--always in the Lord.

Another aspect of ungracious speech is flattery. Flattery consists of idle comments meant to make another person feel good about himself--and for which he will give you the credit for having imbued him with those good feelings--but the comments lack a firm foundation of utter truth and are absent any spiritual content or godly value. Flattery is ungracious. Flattery works ruin in the life of the one flattered (Proverbs 26:28, 28:23, Psalm 5:9, 12:2). Contrast flattery with praise. Praising another verbally is an encouraging recognition that accurately describes the Christ-like quality another person exhibited in their behavior for which we can all give thanks to God (1 Corinthians 11:2, Romans 13:3, 2 Thessalonians 1:3). Genuine and deserved praise for godly conduct is gracious speech, flattery is not.

Gracious speech is Christ-like. It speaks the way Christ would speak. Christ spent His ministry speaking of spiritual issues, calling sinners to repent, rebuking the Pharisees, reproving the scribes, instructing the faithful how to live righteously, and encouraging the multitudes with the gospel. Christ did not complain, gossip, flatter, or slander, all of which are forms of ungracious talk. Rather, He was and is our model of gracious speech.

Let us imitate Christ and fill our mouths with His Word, uttering encouragements, reproofs, instructions in righteousness, and gospel testimony as is fitting to the need of the moment to those within earshot. Ungracious speech, that empty chatter which lacks spiritual value, is a waste of precious time and communicates secret hatred toward others. We must put on Christ, but especially in all that we say so as to build up others in Him with every breath by which we form words.

---

[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online August 19, 2007. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the August 19, 2007 post entitled: Grace to Others

Begin Comment 1:

Please permit me to quickly add: Yes, this is easier to say (to write) than to put into practice. All those who are close enough to call me "friend" know that my speech is often not as gracious as it must become.

Posted 8/19/2007 4:57 PM by C. W. Booth

End comment one

Begin Comment 2:

So what do we do with the routine of life talk? What we are fixing for dinner? what we are ordering off the menu? facts of bills coming and when to pay? how was the drive home? how is Aunt Sophie's medical conditon? what did you think of the movie? news articles and stories? Just general daily discussion of things? Where does that fit in?

Denise

Posted 8/20/2007 9:17 AM by Denise

End comment two

Begin Comment 3:

Hi Denise! You are making reference to what I call "the business of life." Of course graciousness as a concept is not quite as narrow as I painted it in the blog. As a concept, graciousness is all about doing and saying everything in such a way as to demonstrate our thankfulness for God's favors upon us. This does not always have to be verbalized as such.

For example, when the believers had their friends imprisoned and homes confiscated they reacted with sympathy for others and joy over the loss of possessions. Expressing sympathy is graciousness (for God is sympathetic). Expressing joy as a result of trials is graciousness (for God tells us trials work to the building up of our faith, making us more like Christ), it does not always require a theological essay.

Therefore, during the normal business of life, what is often seen as the "mundane," are we expressing ourselves as if we were thankful people? Often, when I order fast food (which I do all too frequently), it is with great thankfulness and joy to God in my heart because I have the resources at present to be able to do so (there was a time when such a thing was not financially possible). To my shame, I have not yet told a fast food cashier about my grateful heart, but hopefully my attitude and speech convey something of my inner attitude toward God--appreciation for His grace. I would consider that gracious speech as well, up to a point.

Gracious speech in normal life activity must always be intentional, mindful that we are ambassadors of Christ. Writing movie reviews or book reviews, I do that so as to keep fellow believers from wasting their time and money on inappropriate material, warn them of ungodly content, or help them see the spiritual value of the thesis. Some small talk is conducted merely as smooth transition into weightier matters of the Spirit. Paying bills, I am often shocked that I have money sufficient to cover my expenses, and make mention of this surprise and gratitude to my family so they may join me in gratitude to God. The news of the day from the mass media brings our minds back to what God is doing around the world, sometimes resulting in prayer, sometimes intense discussion with my wife over eschatology; reminding ourselves that God is active in our planet is gracious speech.

Inquiring as to the health and welfare of others is gracious, for that is how Christ comported Himself, and just perhaps we can share God's mercy with those who are ill if not His comfort. Gracious speech is intentional speech, speech we purposely use mindful that we are ambassadors of the Lord in a fallen world.

But that speaks to the ordinary business of life. It does not speak to the interactions we have with other believers. In the presence of other believers, why would we ever avoid talking about the Lord and His Word? Sure, we may be playing a parlor game or a board game for recreation with other Christians, yet, we are still all His children. Such moments are great opportunities to find out from others what is going on in their lives, what their hopes and aspirations are, what their disquieting thoughts may be, and to try to support such persons. Frankly, the days are short, and we must always be thinking how to make the best use of even our recreational time, and that includes the application of gracious speech.

Should we go around sounding like MP3 players reciting Bible passages by rote so as to sound gracious? Probably not. Gracious speech is intentional dialogue designed to give grace to the hearer based on their need for the moment. It is designed to pass along God's love, mercy, concern, comfort, and instruction, or perhaps, merely our love and thankfulness toward God so as to benefit others and spur them on to good works and thankfulness.

Whether for the benefit of other believers or for the ordinary business interactions of the day, our speech, in order for it to be gracious, must always be intentional, truthful, and godly.

Posted 8/20/2007 11:32 AM by C. W. Booth

End comment Three

 

August 27, 2007

Reducing the Curse

Isaiah 11 was properly understood by the Jews of that age to be a prophetic promise of the days that would some day come, when the Messiah would rule the planet and bring peace, completion, and relief to Israel. This day is still to come, and while Israel will be made whole again, the partial removal of the Genesis 3 curse will bless the entire world.

Thing One

A couple things struck me about Isaiah 11. First, it bears testimony to the truth that the Word of God is utterly consistent and factually accurate. We are told in Genesis 1 that God (to be quite specific, that would be Jesus, the Messiah) created the world, and in that pristine state, it had no death. Without death, which came with the curse, there could not have been any animal predation. Cats did not hunt rodents, sharks did not devour herring, and wolves did not consume sheep.

Manís rebellion resulted in God cursing the earth. Corporeal death was introduced and reigned for all living creatures beginning on that day. Animals that ordinarily ate vegetation for sustenance, suddenly had to turn on its neighbor, kill it, and become filled on its blood and flesh. Manís greed, his lust of the eyes (Genesis 3:6), and his willingness to indulge in the pursuit of his pleasures resulted in infusing pain, agony, and the ultimate cruelty of physical death for every living being.

When the Messiah returns to reign over the planet some day, He will rescind some of that curse. Though death will not necessarily be destroyed (that will happen at a still more future date -- Revelation 20:14) the part of the curse that requires animals to be carnivorous predators will be repealed. Meat eaters will stop killing, will begin eating grass, and their natures will be altered, reverting back to the way they behaved in the Garden of Eden.

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper's den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6-9)

This account reminds me of an animatronics scene at the Creation Museum. It is a sculptorís representation of the Garden of Eden, and children are playing beside a brook while animals eat grass all around them, animals that one day after the fall would not hesitate to feed on such youngsters. It was as it will one day again be, that a small youth will lead a lion around in his impromptu parade, without fear, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.

When Scripture depicts the peace of Christís millennial reign as characterized by carnivores who no longer eat meat, preferring instead to eat grass, it confirms the validity of Genesis and the creation. If there will be a time of non-predation in Earthís future, it substantiates that there was a time when all animals were herbivores at the beginning of its history. Death was unknown until man sinned. Creation storyís reality is supported by a prophetic picture of the last era of Earth--if one is true, then both are true.

Thing Two

My friends know well that I am an avid fisherman. Granted, as of late I have little time to fish, but it is my favorite of all recreational activities, though recreation has given sway to matters of greater import.

Isaiah 11 caused me a bit of hesitation. When animal predation ceases, so will recreational sport fishing. Even if catch-and-release were permitted in the Messiahís millennial reign (and there is reason to think that it will not be allowed), it would be pointless. No sport fish is going to strike an artificial bait in those days.

Fish inhale lures because they look like food, living food. Artificial crawfish cause bass to attack, sucking in the bait and the hook, in an effort to alleviate their hunger. But in the Messiahís reign, fish will not hunger after other fish or for aquatic "animals." Sport fishing will be futile at best.

A Final Thing

During the millennium, when the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, what will recreation look like? What will stress look like? Surely that remains a mystery. And though I find such mysteries perplexing, it is a certainty that the fish will be more at ease, and I suspect, so will most of mankind. Though it will not be quite heaven, or even a return to the Garden of Eden, it will be a blessing.

August 31, 2007

Gracious Listening

A few days ago, I posted the following paragraph on gracious speech:

To withhold Christ, the Word of God, or spiritual discussion from another believer is to render your speech ungracious; your speech has lost its salt and is good for literally nothing. Talk which omits grace (which is talk that intentionally excludes spiritual content) is sin; never are we admonished to be ungracious, idle, and empty communicators (Ephesians 5:6, 1 Timothy 6:20, 2 Timothy 2:16). Salt-flavored speech is filled with grace--reproofs, rebukes, encouragements, instructions, and encouragements--always in the Lord.

Yet, gracious speech is only a part of our obligation to be gracious. We must also be gracious listeners, seeking to be with others, desiring to hear others, eager to understand what others have to say about the Lord.

He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom. A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind. (Proverbs 18:1-2)

So, it is wrong to intentionally withhold fellowship around the Word from others, and it is wrong to separate oneself from hearing the Word from the lips of others. One who shuns fellowship with other Christians is only interested in following his own philosophy, a type of self-delusion, a form of "donít confuse me with the facts." We are never to be this way. We are to actively listen to the grace of the Word offered by others.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; (James 1:19)

The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (Proverbs 18:15)

One who both withholds from his speech the grace of the Lord, and withholds from his ears the grace of the Word spoken by others, is in serious need to evaluate his heart, his mind, and his spiritual condition.


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