Staying Connected 2006 November - December
* Due to copyrights, original graphics and tables do not appear in these articles
About 16 years ago, I began to look into the veracity of the Christian faith. I started with Bible prophecy and a couple years later came upon young-earth "science" mixed in with all manner of other apologetics. Soon I became an agitated young-earth creationist who couldn't quite find peace of mind concerning facts and faith. Then a friend of mine (who subsequently became a pastor) loaned me a video of Hugh Ross and Alex Metherell discussing such topics as the anthropic principle and Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Soon after watching the video, I purchased The Fingerprint of God and found it to be completely convincing, logical, and understandable. It literally changed the way I looked at the world.
So many people I meet feel the tension between faith and reason. They think the situation is as hopeless as achieving peace in the Middle East. Many, convinced that the conflict is irreconcilable, give up either on science or on faith. The materials produced by Reasons To Believe over the years have put to rest the angst that developed as I grew up in the home of a believer (my mom) and a skeptic (my dad). My occasional doubts, like those every Christian faces, melt away when I recount the awesome evidences for the God of the Bible as Creator of the universe.
I started looking into these things to satisfy my own curiosity, and despite my totally selfish intentions, the Lord began to work through me to reach others for Him. At age 21, I volunteered to work with our church youth group and have continued to do so for the last 10 years since. Now, the same questions I once had are being asked of me on a weekly basis. When I can give a biblically and scientifically sound response without a moment's hesitation, the kids are amazed. They see God's wisdom and wonders in creation. Somehow, this average high school student became the "resident expert" on all things science, history, and philosophy. The kids seem to think I am this brilliant person, and when I tell them how poorly I did in my early high school years they don't believe me. So I point them to your Web site and tell them to start reading for themselves. I know that God can do a similar work in their lives.
By training I am an MRI technologist. By the time I graduated from high school, my grades had improved, and I aced x-ray school. Radiation physics wasn't even hard for me. I believe C. S. Lewis said that "Christianity is an education all to itself," and I am living proof. Things that never made sense to me-in classes, in the Bible, and even on The Learning Channel-do now. All the things I've learned over the years, including things from your books and resources, have coalesced into a coherent worldview. I always joke that I never set out to be an amateur science geek, it just happened. The reality of it all is that through your ministry and even your suggested reading list, the Lord was able to use me for something I never dreamed possible.
I know this is a long letter; so I'll try to sum it up. The truth is, I should have written a long time ago! Very recently, two of my youth group kids told me that if it weren't for the things I discussed with them, the answers I offered them, they would not be Christians today. All of the credit truly belongs to the Lord, I know, but His instrument in this case was you. During youth group trips, kids constantly keep me awake until 2, 3, and 4 in the morning asking me questions about faith and science. They are so appreciative that I have answers for them that I thought it only fair to "share all good things with [my] instructor" (per Galatians 6:6b).
Over the years I have given your Web address to more people than I can count. My youth group has done open-air evangelism in Boston (at Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, and in the shopping districts), Philadelphia, and in our home city. I even gave some of your research materials to a missionary I met in Ireland who was on his way to minister to atheists in France. I have given copies of your books as graduation gifts and have received wonderful feedback. The kids I have worked with have gone off to train for jobs in ministry, engineering, and biology. So, you see, it's not just unbelievers who need you to keep doing what you do, but it's believers as well. Your work changed the course of my life. The Lord has worked through your organization to help a person like me, with little formal science education, to help others so that they could go on and help others as well.
Contributed by Christopher Bird, New Jersey
This year of celebration and joyful reflection over the past 20 years has provided major impetus for 20 more years of Reasons To Believe. The dream continues to grow as God guides us (through regular times of fasting and prayer) toward "highest and best use" of His resources-including the unique gifts and talents of the people who comprise the RTB team.
Recent cultural trends indicate a shift of enormous significance. Through most of the 20th century, scientific advance was perceived (falsely) as a threat to the Christian faith. In the 21st century, Christian faith is perceived (falsely) as a threat to scientific advance. The enemies of truth use such distortions to their advantage, but God has called and equipped RTB to prove the opposite. Christians have every reason to rejoice in new discoveries because these discoveries provide an endless supply of new reasons to believe in Jesus Christ as Creator and Savior.
As demand grows and God enables, RTB will enlist the help of additional researchers and communicators who share our passion for evangelism, equipping, and character growth. At the same time, we will make strategic use of available and emerging technologies. A complete renovation of our Web site is in the works, and we're about to replace our data systems. While the scholars continue to write books that only they can write and give talks that only they can give, others will work strategically-via print and electronic media-to increases awareness of and accessibility to their message.
These are just a few broad strokes to describe what lies ahead. More specifics will appear in our year-end report and statement of goals for the new year.
Thanks everyone for supporting us through the first 20 years!
Thanks to the Pension Protection Act of 2006, taxpayers age 70 ½ or older can make tax-free distributions to a church or charity directly from traditional IRAs or from a Roth IRA up to $100,000 for 2006 and $100,000 for 2007. (IRA rollovers to donor advised funds, supporting organizations, private foundations or charitable remainder trusts do not qualify.)
Under these new rules, taxpayers can transfer IRA funds directly to their church or charity without incurring income tax on the transfer. The donor may claim a charitable deduction only to the extent that the IRA was funded with after-tax dollars. Individuals may have made both pre-tax and after-tax contributions to a traditional IRA.
One minor caveat: if any of the IRA rollover to the church or charity is not deductible because the donor received a quid pro quo or other benefit, it would also not be excludible from income.
How does an IRA rollover work?
Mr. Smith, age 70½, has accumulated about $1 million in his traditional (or Roth) IRA. He believes he will need about $800,000 of these funds for his retirement. He had planned to leave his IRA intact for another 10 years rather than pay the tax on withdrawal of assets as required under the old law.
With the benefit of the new law, Mr. Smith can transfer $100,000 to [his] church or charity on or before December 31, 2006 and another $100,000 during 2007. The $200,000 withdrawn from his IRA will not be subject to income tax. His gifts will be tax-deductible only to the extent that he had previously funded his IRA with after-tax dollars.
Here's an added bonus: under the minimum distribution rules, Mr. Smith must begin making withdrawals from his retirement plans, including traditional IRAs, by April 1 of the year following the year in which he reaches age 70½. According to committee report, the IRA rollover to his church or charity is a distribution counting toward the Mr. Smith's minimum annual distribution to the same extent it would have had it not been given to a charity.
Taken from "Taking Advantage of IRA Rollover Opportunities" by Dan Busby. ECFA newsletter, 3rd qtr, 2006.
"I just finished reading Creation as Science. WOW!!! This was a much needed work. And I am looking forward to more. I started watching your TV program on TBN probably 15 years ago. I thought it great that a scientist was talking about the Bible (something unheard of)...I believed in the Bible, but tried to ignore the problems. By putting the model 'on the table' it shows all that there is no fear and that the truth is what is wanted… Keep up the good work." Randy - Gibson City, IL
"Congratulations on your first twenty years of ministry. Thank you for all the good things you have taught me during that time....Your publications, lectures, and Message of the Month materials have been valuable resources." David - Aurora, IL
When it comes to science, most of us come much closer to being "average" than to being experts such as Hugh Ross, Dave Rogstad, Jeff Zweerink, and Fuz Rana. That's where I come in. I'm Joe Aguirre and I'm an editor at Reasons To Believe. I get to eat lunch with the scholars and ask the questions you might ask if given the opportunity. And I can persist until I understand what the details mean to a regular guy like me. So, I invite you to check out a new column designed by and for the "Average Joe" at reasons.org.
Want the perfect stocking stuffer for someone who meets either description? How about a little spiritual additive to enhance the impact of your Christmas cards? RTB is releasing two exciting booklets in time for the holidays.
In 10 Breakthroughs of 2006: Scientific Discoveries that Affirm Creation, the scholar team shows how the past year's scientific discoveries validate RTB's biblical creation model, giving even more reasons to believe.
Genesis One: A Scientific Perspective, by Hugh Ross, explains how the latest science corroborates the biblical creation account, from the big bang to the appearance of humans.
These concise and informative booklets offer an excellent introduction to RTB's message and ministry. Quantity discounts are available. To order visit our Web site or call (800) 482-7836.
As much as I love my work at RTB, I must say that I really appreciate my vacation time, especially when a family member invites me on an all-expenses-paid cruise. A few weeks ago, my mom and I sailed to three ports in three days. By the last day she was tired, as was I, so we were back on the ship by noon.
After lunch, I sat in a quiet spot in the nearly empty dining room and tried to read a novel. But with the warmth of the sun streaming in through huge windows I became sleepy, leaned my head back against the cushiony chair, and closed my eyes. I had hardly noticed the two men, perhaps a father and son, who sat at a table nearby. I was about to doze off when I heard the older gentleman ask, "Do you believe there's life on other planets?"
The younger man replied, "Absolutely. With so many galaxies, there must be others like ours that can sustain life."
Startled awake, I was anxious to hear the response. "Well," the first man began, "I just read a book by an astronomer named Hugh Ross and . . ."
What a thrill! Relaxing on a cruise ship far from home hearing someone use information from an RTB book-a book I helped edit-to communicate truth to a skeptic made my day. And the conversation that followed more than motivated me to get back to work.
Contributed by Patti Townley-Covert, Executive Editor