Friday, March 28, 2008

Grand Prize!

I was eating lunch (for once!) this afternoon when the guys hauled in a package with my name on it. Incidentally the mailman had to walk it up our driveway since we had about 2 inches of snow on the ground and he didn't want to put chains on just to get up the driveway... :) Everyone was gathered around me murmuring in excited undertones (well, some were), and I made them wait until I finished off my last slice of garlic bread--very slowly to build the suspense. It turned out to be my new Leica 8x42 Ultravid binoculars, and from my brief "field tests" (ie. peeking out the door between snow flurries) they are above and beyond what I expected! I wish I could show you what it's like to look through these. Leica sure makes some fantastic optical instruments.

Now I have four binoculars, a Leica 8x42 Ultravid, Leica 8x32 Trinovid, Stokes 8x42 Talon, and my Nikon 7x35's. It's great to have so many around for my younger siblings to use when they come birding with me.

Here's a shot of all the loot I've gathered over the last two years of entering the Young Birder of the Year contest--most of the materials on the right are this year's prizes. I can't recommend this competition highly enough for anyone interested in birds! It's been a fantastic time of learning, study, and growth in my art, photography and writing skills, and most importantly has led me to a better understanding of and love for this special part of Creation.

I'm going to go paint now.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Yesterday afternoon Daniel, Mike and I found ourselves over at Jonathan and Chelsea's new house painting the kitchen and the bedroom in preparation for their move this weekend. Things got pretty hysterical after a while, once we started philosophizing about etymology and candy. Mike complained that he was bored, so I threatened to fire him, and then Chelsea came by and said that she would fire him, to which he responded, "Fire me then. I've got two dollars!"

I was Rembrandt, and Daniel was Picasso the "ladder" day saint (because he spent most of his time painting near the ceiling, and employed very bold stokes). "Don't worry Daniel. Rembrandt will fix you." :)

A name didn't come readily for Mike, so he was known as "lazy boy," "slacker" and so on (all in good fun of course).

Daniel coined our company name, "Sloppy Joe's Painting Co." (though of course there wasn't a "Joe" among us...) and despite the frightening images that name evokes, I think we did a pretty good job overall.

The kitchen is painted a deep red ("Red, Red Wine" to be exact :), which needs several coats for good coverage, but it will look really nice when everything is put back together and cleaned up. The bedroom is a sort of eggshell blue.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bittner's Farewell Party

Last Sunday Daniel and I had the pleasure of attending the farewell party for our friends the Bittner family up in Olympia. It was a great evening, complete with volleyball, English country dancing, icy polar winds straight from the Arctic tundra mixed with drizzling rain :), singing, good food, discussion and fellowship. We pray for their safe journey across the country to Maryland, and that God would bless them as they get established on the east coast.

Note: I didn't take all these photos (or I wouldn't be in any of them... :)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He Is Risen!

"Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.'" --Matthew 28:1-7

"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? Why are we also in danger every hour? I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.

Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. "

--1 Corinthians 15

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Beautiful Metaphor

“The benediction that falls upon the homes of a country is like the gentle rain that descends among the hills. A thousand springs are fuller afterward, and along the banks of a thousand streamlets flowing through the valleys the grass is greener and the flowers pour out richer fragrance.

Homes are the springs among the hills, whose many streamlets, uniting, form like great rivers society, the community, the nation, the Church. If the springs run low the rivers waste; if they pour our bounteous currents the rivers are full. If the springs are pure, the rivers are clear like crystal; if they are foul the rivers are defiled. A curse upon homes sends a poisoning blight everywhere; a blessing sends healing and new life into every channel.

Homes are the divinely ordained fountains of life…”

-J.R. Miller

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

YBY Finalists

The American Birding Association has posted the names of the finalists and samples of their work from last year's Young Birder of the Year contest here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

"Please Leave Your Preconceptions At the Door"

You already know that so-called "science" and "religion" are at odds today. They're seen as mutually exclusive, so if you want to engage in science, of course you must suspend your beliefs and be "objective." Be careful that you don't come to the table with any preconceptions or a cohesive, decided worldview or you will inevitable skew the scientific process and commit the sin of "subjectivity" in your research. Right?

Well, actually no. With that view we now have a problem; how can any scientist be certain that certain laws of nature that were true yesterday will hold true tomorrow? We're trying to be objective here! Why would he expect anything in nature to be uniform or constant, if he doesn't first assume that the laws of nature will continue to act as they always have? You see, the scientist that relies solely on unadulterated observation has no good reason to believe that anything will be the same when he wakes up tomorrow morning. No reason at all.

Think about his underlying worldview for a moment. First of all he has outlawed God from the universe--supernatural reality is absurd in his view, and oh so "non-scientific." So what is he left with? Well, to be honest, absolutely nothing. Literally! ;) Without an initial creative act, how could someone postulate that something came from nothing, matter came from non-matter? "Well, that's just one of those things we have to accept by faith!"...though they probably wouldn't express it quite that way. :) Big problem guys. You can't explain to me how something came from nothing, even though that is the fundamental factor for your theory to even have a chance of working?! Evolution falls apart on this point.

Obviously evolutionists have a strong commitment to something which prevents them from acknowledging the Creator, and causes them to approach a field which they have no ideological right to, because in their worldview they have no basis for the uniformity of nature. Dad posted some excellent thoughts on this topic here.

So whatever happened to objectivity Mr. Scientist? You see, we all have preconceptions and fundamental beliefs. But when you're asked to capitulate your position and be "objective," realize that the atheist intends to remain armed.

All that by way of introduction, here's the real reason I decided to address this topic. Last week I received the judge's comments on my writing, photography, sketching and painting from the Young Birder of the Year competition, which I recently won. The professional feedback is really valuable and encouraging to me. I try to make a conscious effort to show forth my faith in my work, and last year I wrote a short poem expressing the clarity with which Creation points to its Creator. Read it here: "This Must Be God's Hand". I realize it's kind of a simplistic piece--I'm not a poet--but I tried to capture something of the wonder of nature and how it rebukes the atheist, materialist worldview.

As I excitedly scanned over the judges' reactions I was shocked to learn that I wasn't being "objective!" I mean, I try to be a good ornithologist and be careful about my observations, but all along I guess I was self-deceived. In the spirit of the literary masterpiece, "Little Mouse and the Big Hungry Bear," there's only one way to be a good, objective scientist. It's easy. Simply accept...evolution? Wait a minute...

"This poem definitely evokes wonder. As your study of birds progresses, you may find yourself needing to consider what scientists believe to be the truth of evolution. It's demonstrably visible in the process of speciation, which is going on before our eyes and in our lifetimes. Nothing is static in the natural world, and evolution is an ongoing and vital process that should not be summarily dismissed as random or theoretical..."

"I think your style would benefit from a healthy dose of objectivity. Check your beliefs and pre-conceptions at the door and write about and describe what you see and feel. Focus not on how you believe a bird came to be or its purpose in the grand scheme, rather the bird itself, its nature, behavior and essence..."

Don't get me wrong. I really appreciate all the comments and insights that the judges bring to my work, but when someone questions the authenticity of doing science from a Christian worldview, I need to respond to that. (If only to clarify what I believe on the subject and how I should answer when questioned) And I don't mean to offend any of these people who lent their time and effort to the judging process--they weren't being harsh. But they are wrong in assuming that a belief in evolution is the only "objective" way to approach science.

You know what I find ironic? In the second quote, he tells me to remain objective in my observations, then immediately turns around and tells me to be subjective. See that? If I started to inscribe my personal feelings about a bird in my notebook, how objective is that? Interesting.

It all comes down to definitions. When an atheist says "be objective" he means, "Abandon this silly notion that God exists and is the sovereign Creator of the universe." "Stop worshiping the Creator, and instead worship the creature."

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures." --Romans 1:18-23

What a telling passage. It's an age-old problem folks. We need to understand that the only rational way of doing science is by first accepting God, as He has revealed Himself in Creation and in Scripture, as the only stable foundation for studying the complexities of the things He has created, and continues to sustain through his almighty power and sovereignty.

The Irony of Feminism

An insightful quote from Phil Lancaster in his book, "Family Man, Family Leader."

"The irony of feminism is that, while it hates men and wants to liberate women from men, the masculine is its standard of what is good and fulfilling in life. (It ought to be called "masculinism!") No one can escape God's order! All they can do is twist it, and in their attempt to change the unchangeable, damage themselves and those around them. In rejecting the Bible's definition of what it means to be a woman, women are rejecting their own humanity and condemning themselves to an unfulfilled life, and countless homes are a shadow of what they could of been if they had a virtuous wife within their walls."

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's Finished!

"Safe Haven"--Greater Scaup
acrylic on crescent illustration board, 9 x 12
© Benjamin Berkompas 2008

Saturday, March 08, 2008

My Art Class

Yesterday afternoon I held a 3-hour art class (twice the normal length) so my students could put the finishing touches on their duck stamp entries for the 2008 competition (yes I was tired after 3 hours... :). Many of them finished, and the rest are close. Their artwork is really wonderful. Once I get a chance I may post their work on my blog, but right now you get to see them all hard at work.