In Memory of Dr. Henry

Dr. Henry M. Morris III (1942-2020)

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15)

Dr. Henry M. Morris III, CEO of the Institute for Creation Research (ICR), went home to be with our Lord on Saturday, December 12, 2020. The announcement came as a shock to me. The day before, I heard that he was taken to the hospital with COVID-19 along with other complications.  We immediately started praying for God’s healing hand to touch him. On Saturday morning my Gideon Camp lifted him up in prayer. When I got home, I found the announcement on the ICR Facebook page that he had passed away. It broke my heart to find the news. I loved Dr. Henry deeply. He was my employer at ICR, but more than that, he was a brother in Christ, a mentor, and a friend. To me, he was someone I could trust, someone to whom I could look up, and someone whom I could emulate.

I first met Dr. Henry in July 2008 when I applied for the position of Web Administration Assistant at ICR. ICR hired me, and I started work in August 2008. Even though Dr. Henry was “the boss,” I found him very approachable and easy to talk to, but he was still “the boss.”

Not long after I started working at ICR, I found out that Dr. Henry started the Genesis Sunday School Class at First Baptist Church Dallas (FBCD) where June and I were members. It was not long before we joined his Sunday School class. Dr. Henry was such an excellent Bible teacher. He would teach through books of the Bible exegetically. He would cover four or five verses in a lesson and produce six to eight pages of notes for our personal study. I still have all of his notes on file. Oh, how I loved sitting under his teaching. It is through Sunday School that I feel I really got to know Dr. Henry and grew to love him so dearly.

In 2009, ICR started the School of Biblical Apologetics (SOBA), which offered a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. The school would be designed to be taken online, but the initial classes were held on the campus of ICR. I signed up at the first opportunity.

One of the requirements for the degree program was to write a Master’s thesis or produce a “capstone project.” God gave me a vision of building a scale model of Noah’s Ark as my capstone project,[i] which I also intended to donate to ICR. So, I went in to see Dr. Henry to run my idea by him and get his approval. He listened to me attentively and asked if I had ever done anything like that before. I admitted that I had no experience in building anything like that, but I had built hundreds of models from kits. I told him that I was pretty handy with tools and that I felt that since God had given me the vision for the model, He would supply the necessary skills.

I could tell that he had his doubts, but he gave me his approval and blessing, and I started the work in March 2010. Nine months later, I completed the first deck of the model, and I invited Dr. Henry and his wife, Jan, to our home for dinner and for the first viewing of my project. His reaction upon seeing it assured me that any reservations he might have had were gone.

Dr. Henry inspecting the first completed deck of the Noah’s Ark Model, November 2010.

Two years later and after completing the second deck, Dr. Henry asked me to bring the model to ICR for an open house/fundraiser for ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History. That was the first hint I had that he wanted to display the model in the Discovery Center.

Noah’s Ark Model under construction on display, November 2012.

It took me almost five years to complete the model, which I turned over to ICR on January of 2015. For me the model was a labor of love, and Dr. Henry graciously accepted it as a gift of love, and it now resides as part of the Ark Exhibit at the Discovery Center.

The Noah’s Ark Model on display at the ICR Discovery Center for Science and Earth History, Dallas, Texas.

In 2017, the physical work of building the Discovery Center began. It was Dr. Henry’s dream to build a world-class learning center that would display the glory of God’s creation along with the scientific research that confirms the truth of God’s Word. Everything had to be first-class. All of the ICR team pitched in with Dr. Henry leading the way. All of the work was dedicated to the glory of God and the project was daily bathed in prayer.

The project not only had to blend Bible and science to proclaim God’s creation, but it needed to lead the visitor to the understanding that the Creator was also the Savior and soon coming King of kings and Lord of lords. To that end, Dr. Henry wanted the final attraction in the exhibit hall to present the Gospel in three-dimensional form by way of a diorama. A wealthy donor donated his collection of figurines and miscellaneous buildings and structures that he had displayed in his own house. The collection included thousands of figurines and hundreds of structures, buildings, and miscellaneous objects, but the space allotted for the diorama was limited.

Opening day for the Discovery Center was scheduled for Labor Day 2019.  Earlier that year, Dr. Henry called me to his office and assigned the building of the diorama to me. My task was to find “talent” that would create the landscaping for the 16 scenes from the life of Christ that would be represented. My first thought was to find a railroad modeling club that would be willing to lend their talent in creating the diorama while making some extra money for their club. There must be hundreds of such clubs in the Dallas Metroplex, but I could not find one willing to take on the task. I found one gentleman from Fort Worth that did that kind of work, but he assured us that he (alone) could not complete the job by opening day. I found another “artist” that showed interest, but he scoffed when he saw our collection and considered the task beneath him to pursue. Then I found a professional company in Dallas with an entire team of artists and craftsmen. They submitted a quote of between $175,000 and $250,000 to do the job and they estimated that they could complete the job within a couple of weeks of opening day. When I gave the news to Dr. Henry he balked at the cost and rejected the idea.

With all my resources exhausted, I suggested that we could stack boxes of differing heights and shapes on the platform to isolate the scenes and then drape the boxes in black cloth to match with the black platform and wall. Dr. Henry was not very happy with that idea, but with opening day approaching, he was willing to take that option.

The following week, I had to be at an event in California for a week. When I returned, Dr. Henry called me into his office and announced that I would be building the diorama and it would not be with boxes and black cloth. It would have landscaping, hills, a Jordan River for Jesus’ baptism and a Sea of Galilee with Jesus walking on water, a Garden of Gethsemane, Golgotha, an empty tomb, etc. I protested. I have never done that kind of work. I have never worked with that material. But Dr. Henry assured me that I could indeed do it. “You built the Ark,” he said. “You can do this.” Well, I did not do it by myself. With a great team of talented ICR employees and volunteers, we had the diorama completed long before opening day and in plenty of time to have it ready for the several preview showings before opening day.

The Life of Christ Diorama after being installed in its final location.

All the credit goes to God Who provided the talent, the skills, and the vision for that beautiful creation. But it was Dr. Henry’s vision, his encouragement, and his trust in me to get the job done. There was no way that I was going to let that man down.

I love you, Dr. Henry. Heaven is a better place because you’re there. I hope to see you again very soon.

You can read a tribute to Dr. Henry here:

https://www.icr.org/article/in-loving-memory-of-dr-henry-m-morris-iii/

You can watch a video tribute to Dr. Henry here: https://vimeo.com/490003556

Notes:


[i]  “Building the Ark” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/03/01/building-the-ark/

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A Star

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. (Numbers 24:17)

As 2020 winds down to a close, we can look back and say, “It was a terrible year!” For me, it started with a drastic change in life called retirement. And before I could really adjust to my new lifestyle, COVID-19 hit and changed life for all of us. Do I need to recount the chaotic events? In November, we voted in the 2020 Presidential Election, and the candidate who campaigned the least and attracted the smallest following miraculously won the election – supposedly. Now we face the real possibility of having a Socialist government for the first time in our nation’s history. President Trump alleges that the election was stolen, and much evidence exists indicating that he has reason to protest and contest the results. He has a great team of lawyers that are fighting to get the election overturned (I pray that they do), but time is running out. However, there is still hope.

I have said this before, and I am still convinced that whether Biden becomes our next President or President Trump wins his second term, we face troubled times ahead. But there is hope. At least, for the Christian there is hope. We only need to remember that our primary citizenship is in heaven with our Lord, and the intensity of the trouble we experience today should alert us that He will soon return to take us home to be with Him. The intensity of the trouble will increase, and the more it increases, the closer we are to His calling us home. There is always hope.

Long ago, as the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness hoping for their Promised Land, their enemies rose up to thwart their plans. One such enemy was Balak, the king of Moab, who hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.[1] Balaam was not a “prophet of God,” but he knew God well enough to know that God would not allow him to speak against His people. No matter how Balaam tried, he could only speak the words God directed him to speak. In the end, Balaam pronounced a blessing on Israel, rather than a curse.

In that blessing, Balaam prophesied, “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17, emphasis mine). On the face of it, the prophecy refers to a coming king of Israel that “shall smite the corners of Moab.” If we stop there, the prophecy leaves us in a lurch, but the Holy Spirit keeps no secrets from those who have “ears to hear.”

In his Gospel, Matthew tells us that “there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2, emphasis mine). Yes, the baby born in Bethlehem was the Star, but a real star – a celestial object – appeared out of Jacob (Israel) to announce His birth. It is because of that Star that we have our Blessed Hope.

Notes:


[1]  Numbers 22-24

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False Prophets

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5)

Before going into Babylonian captivity, false prophets arose in Judah proclaiming that Judah would have peace and not fall prey to the Babylonian Empire. At the same time, the prophet Jeremiah preached a much different message warning of coming invasion if the people did not repent from their idolatry. The people refused to listen to Jeremiah and instead treated him harshly for his message of impending doom. “Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD” (Jeremiah 20:1-2).

Jeremiah preached a message that was distasteful and unpopular, but it was the message God gave him to warn the people of Judah, and it was the truth. Jeremiah disliked giving the message. He said, “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness” (Jeremiah 23:9). God knew these false prophets well, and he would deal with them in due time. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you … I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied … I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.  (Jeremiah 23:16-17, 21, 25). Not long after, Jeremiah was proven right and the others paid with their lives.

We have false prophets today. This should not come as a surprise. Jesus warned us to look out for them. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11).  Mark records Jesus’ words this way, “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22, emphasis mine). Long before Jesus took on human flesh, Moses warned about false prophets. “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, … Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-3)

It becomes apparent that false prophets can actually make accurate predictions so that they can “seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22). I point this out because recently modern-day “prophets” have arisen making astonishing claims, and their claims have come to pass. All of these come from a Pentecostal background that supports the notion that the gift of prophecy given to some believers includes not only “forth-telling” – expounding Scripture – but “foretelling” future events as revealed to them directly from God. You hear them say things like, “God spoke to me and showed thus and so…” The revealed message is always something extra-biblical, but they will include Scripture to help validate the new revelation.

One such prophet was the late Kim Clement. You can still find his videos on YouTube. Clement dramatically and accurately prophesied the election of Donald J. Trump. There are others that have followed in his footsteps who predict that Donald J. Trump will win a second term. In many ways, I hope they are right because I do not like the alternative, but on the other hand, I hope they are wrong and that God will expose them as the false prophets that they are.

There exist among us other false prophets that do not presume to foretell future events. Rather, their forth-telling distorts Scripture making it say things that God never intended. Sadly, we have those in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) that are promoting Socialism – the redistribution of wealth – and promoting the “woke” church.[1]

Other false prophets have been around for a while now. These preach “another gospel” than the one delivered to us by the Apostles.[2] These include the LDS church (the Mormons), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and others. These have either added to Scripture, reinterpreted Scripture, or in some form or fashion distorted Scripture.

The true modern-day prophet is the one that says “Thus saith the Lord” by “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), not the one that says “God spoke to me …” Do not listen to the latter, even if his/her predictions do come true. Consider this. Satan is no dummy. He is crafty and cunning, and he knows the Scriptures. He can analyze current events and predict what “might” happen much better than we can. However, he is only making his best guess. Only God knows the future. We need to be careful to whom we listen, even if they get a prediction right every now and then or demonstrate some kind of “sign.” If they are not coming strictly from Scripture reject their message.

Notes:


[1]  Article and video at https://protestia.com/2020/11/27/movie-launch-documentary-of-the-scandalous-first-baptist-church-naples-story-is-out/

[2]  Galatians 1:6-9

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Four Hundred Years

And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will. (Leviticus 22:29)

November 11, 2020 commemorated the landing of the merchant ship Mayflower at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. She left port at Southampton on September 16, 1620 with 102 Pilgrims and about 30 crew members onboard and arrived in the “Promised Land” about three months later.

Before setting foot on the new land, and because Plymouth was not their intended destination, the Pilgrims convened to establish an agreement for self-governance of the colony. That document, known as the Mayflower Compact, served as a model for the founding documents of our nation. The first sentence of that document, following all the legal formal language, stated the purpose of the colony, i.e., “Having undertaken for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith…”

The small band arrived in the harshest of New England winters. They were unable to build suitable shelters, so they spent the winter onboard the Mayflower. By the time they finally disembarked at the end of March 1621, almost half of their company had died of a contagious disease described as a mixture of scurvy, pneumonia, and tuberculosis.

Once on land and with the help of some Indians, they planted crops and built houses for themselves. At harvest time (the date is not recorded), they joined together with the Indian tribes that helped them to offer thanksgiving to God for providing for them even through extremely difficult times.

The Pilgrims did not celebrate a particular day of thanksgiving; rather, they made a practice of thanking God daily for His care and provision – a practice we all should follow. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15)

We should offer God our sacrifice of thanksgiving daily, not just on the fourth Thursday of November.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fear

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Isaiah 41:13)

Dictionary.Com defines “fear”[1] as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.” Note, first of all, that fear is an “emotion;” thus it is subject to irrationality. Note also that fear can be stirred up by a sense of “impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.” Fear is rational when the danger is real as in the case of a physical attack. Fear is irrational when the danger is imagined as in the case of less than a 1% chance of catching COVID-19. In either case, the emotion of fear can cause us to react in an irrational manner.

We can prepare ourselves to confront fear rationally by training for a variety of scenarios. We can prepare for a physical attack by taking self-defense classes and practicing, at least mentally, for different situations in which we may come under attack. Our military and police do this on a regular basis so that when they come under threat, they can respond rationally to a fearful situation.

In the case of COVID-19, or any disease that may afflict us, we can prepare ourselves mentally with information, so that we can take proper and sensible precautions. The danger of COVID-19 is real, but it is not a threat to everyone. Ninety-nine percent of the population will not contract the virus. Yet the media bombard us daily with increased percentages of “cases” of COVID – not deaths, only “cases.” When they report a 50% increase in cases, that sounds like a lot, but they never report on what the percentages are based. Does 50% mean half of the entire population or only half of what was previously reported? Such careless reporting serves only to feed the fear in the audience who by and large do not exercise critical thinking when listening to news reports.

And how accurate are the tests anyway? Recently, Elon Musk tested positive and negative for COVID-19.[2] He tested four times. Two tests returned positive results and two tests returned negative results. With inconclusive results, he still has no idea if he really has had the virus.

By the way, has anyone, besides me, noticed that no flu deaths have been reported by the media this year? Yet, “During the 2019-2020 influenza season, CDC estimates that influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations, and 22,000 deaths”[3] compared to 34,200 deaths in 2018-2019.[4]  Why do we not hear about flu deaths? Could it be that the flu is less sensational?

As for deaths from COVID-19, only 6% of the deaths associated with the novel coronavirus died solely from the virus, the rest were brought about by other underlying conditions. In an article by “LiveScience” attempting to debunk the social media claim “that ‘only 6%’ of the reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are solely attributable to the new coronavirus,” the writer seems to validate the claim. He says,

This claim stems from an Aug. 26 update the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted on its website, which provides a detailed breakdown of the accompanying health conditions (known as comorbidities) and contributing causes of death reported in people who have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. The CDC noted that “For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned.”

In other words, 6% of people who died when they had COVID-19 didn’t have underlying conditions, such as diabetes, asthma or heart disease, and didn’t experience any medical complications, such as kidney failure or sepsis. But the other 94% of deaths were still caused by COVID-19, infectious disease experts said. That’s because many chronic, underlying conditions can make diseases that a person might otherwise recover from, such as COVID-19, suddenly deadly.[5] (Emphasis mine)

The fact remains that of those that have died with COVID-19, only 6% died solely of COVID-19. The claim (in bold above) that the other deaths were “caused by COVID-19” is misleading. The deaths were caused by multiple complications including COVID-19.

A Google search on “Current COVID Deaths” reported 245,000 deaths with COVID-19 to death – at 6%, only 1470 from COVID only compared to 22,000 deaths from the flu. The current population of the United States is 328,200,000. Using simple math to calculate the percentage of the population that has died with COVID-19, results in an unimpressive 0.0074649% of the population.

Each one of us has a 0.007% chance of dying with COVID-19, and only 6% of those have a chance of dying from COVID-19 alone.

Why are we living in fear over COVID-19? Why have our churches been restricted from exercising our First Amendment right to assemble and worship as we please? Why have our churches capitulated to unconstitutional mandates rather than adhere to God’s command that we not forsake our assembling together (Hebrews 10:25)? Why do we continue to succumb to the irrational edicts of those who only desire to exercise control over our lives?

I, for one, am tired of wearing masks. I am tired of social distancing. I am tired of going to church in limited numbers. I am tired of singing praises with my face covered and muted. I am tired of restricting the fellowship with my brothers and sisters to the church parking lot – at a social distance, of course. I am tired of all the senseless restrictions imposed by self-appointed demagogues pretending to have our best interest at heart. Stop with the fear-mongering!

I have heard it said that the Bible has 365 admonitions to “fear not”[6] – one for every day of the year. I have not counted them for myself, but they do seem to come up frequently in my reading. The first “fear not” appears in the Book of Genesis. There God tells Abram, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Genesis 15:1). A shield protects us from incoming blows, and a reward is something we get for doing something right. What did Abram do that was right? “And he believed in the LORD; and [the LORD] counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). In the last book of the Bible, Jesus says to John, “Fear not; I am the first and the last” (Revelation 1:17). The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we allow ourselves to get sucked into the fear over that which we cannot control?

C. S. Lewis once said, “If we are going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb [or the coronavirus], let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint [he wasn’t Baptist!] and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs [or COVID-19]. They may break our bodies (any microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”[7] That sounds like excellent advice to me!

Notes:


[1]  Fear – https://www.dictionary.com/browse/fear?s=t

[2]  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/13/world/does-elon-musk-have-the-coronavirus-after-four-tests-he-still-doesnt-know.html

[3]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2019-2020.html#:~:text=During%20the%202019%2D2020%20influenza,405%2C000%20hospitalizations%2C%20and%2022%2C000%20deaths.

[4]  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html#:~:text=CDC%20estimates%20that%20the%20burden,from%20influenza%20(Table%201).

[5]  https://www.livescience.com/covid-19-comorbidities.html

[6]  “Fear Not” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2020/08/16/fear-not/

[7]  Martindale, Wayne & Jerry Root, The Quotable Lewis, (Tydale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois, 1990), p. 606, quoting Present Concerns: Essays by C. S. Lewis, “On Living in an Atomic Age” (1948), para. 3, pp. 73-74.

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