Black shoes and brown shoes

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dean Bernachi who recently retired from the Mariposa School District as head of technology shared a story via e-mail to the whole district.

The e-mail that Dean shared was titled, Brown Shoes and a Red Helmet. Dean explained that not long ago he had a rare opportunity to ride on the U.S.S. Nimitz on what is called a ‘Tiger Cruise’ from Hawaii to San Diego. Aircraft carriers are floating cities with five to six thousand personal. They have movie theaters, stores, banks, gyms, shooting ranges, and galleys or kitchens that can serve up to 18,000 meals a day. Carriers have doctors, dentists, and telephones where crew can call home if they desire. As great as all that sounds, there is a down side to working on an aircraft carrier. For example, the flight deck can be dangerous, and not many crewmen have an opportunity to work out in the open. By far, the majority of the crew does not see sky in their normal work day. In fact, some may go weeks without seeing any sea or sky. Sleeping arrangements are cramped, with the crew sleeping in berthing compartments that hold about 60, and each person has a single bunk with a small locker for personal items. Bathrooms are shared and each compartment has a small area with a T.V. hooked up to a satellite dish.

Carriers are very tempting targets because they are so valuable. Consequently, they are escorted by cruisers, destroyers and nuclear powered attack submarines. The last aircraft carrier we lost was the Hornet, during World War II, in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. If you know your history, you will know the Hornet (CV-8) took part in the Doolittle Raid, and launched Torpedo Squadron 8. On a side note, the USS Hornet was replaced by another aircraft carrier (CV-12) which participated in WWII, Vietnam, and the Apollo program. This USS Hornet is docked in Alameda, California, and is a national historic landmark that is open for tours. I have been on the Hornet twice and would highly recommend the tour to anyone interested.

Dean said he experienced many events that he will not forget, but one occurrence that he shared was that everyone on the ship wore black shoes, except the pilots, who wore brown shoes. This simple visual difference was to emphasize that ultimately the work of the black shoes was to support those in the brown shoes. It was an aircraft carrier after all, and Dean explained the job of an aircraft carrier was to carry, launch and retrieve aircraft, support the missions of the pilots while on the ship and in the air. From maintenance to meals, those who wore black shoes supported the brown shoes so that they would be successful in their missions. He equated this to teachers being the brown shoes, and how valuable they are, and that everyone else in the district, including his former staff, had worn black shoes in support of the teachers.

It was an interesting analogy that made me immediately think of what kind of shoes we wear as Christians. I would imagine us, that is believers, being the black shoes doing the work of our Lord. Everyone else who is not a believer would be wearing brown shoes. Ultimately, what is it we are trying to accomplish? Win over to our side as many brown shoes as possible before their time ran out. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, (thankfully this is not Mission Impossible), is to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. All else is secondary to that mission. The pain and suffering we all endure as black shoes matters little compared to the importance of a successful mission for the brown shoes. I am not an evangelist and will never pretend to be one, at least not in in the sense of what we normally consider an evangelist, someone on a street corner, Bible in hand calling everyone to repent. Over the years, I have heard many from the pulpit share that we are all really evangelists and that is our calling. Given’s Dean’s e-mail, I suppose what they were saying is, we as Christians wearing black shoes have to support the operations of the brown shoes, (non-believers), until they have a successful mission. How you support the brown shoes will vary greatly. Some of us ride alongside the pilot, supporting their role as they actually are engaged in their worldly mission. Others take a more subtle role, providing clothing and meals to those that have a need, a quiet word, simple actions, loving tasks that bless others. Some that work in a background role as a black shoe might not meet any brown shoes in their work environment. Maybe over time, due to the stresses of real life, dealing with others who, like all of us are imperfect, our shoes start to lose their shine. Maybe at times our black shoes start to look more brown and we might even be mistaken for a brown shoe. Has anyone ever acted surprised to find out you’re a Christian? Have you ever regretted some behavior or activities that you took part in and wish you had not? I think all of us have, and will again. The old saying, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” is very applicable.

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 2 Timothy 2:10

What does the red helmet have to do with the story? Dean explained that the red helmet had nothing to do with the story, but was simply on his head as he was kayaking down the Merced River enjoying his retirement. I have work for, under, and with many people in my life, but without a doubt Dean Bernachi was one of my favorites. As much as some of us enjoy retirement, or look forward to it, I realized that the task of the black shoes never really leaves us, until we meet with the individual who gave us our orders.

Here’s to black shoes and red helmets when we really get to enjoy a long retirement!

My Great Uncle Nemo and Aunt Dory

Reading Time: 6 minutes


Many of us have a favorite aunt or uncle who fill our memories with fond thoughts and feelings. I have very few memories of my own uncles, but I remember my father’s sister, Aunt Jessie, with great fondness and love. One of the last times I saw her, I was picking my mom up after dropping her off to visit Aunt Jessie. They had spent the day together and I picked up my mom early evening. They came out of the house laughing in such a fit they were wiping their eyes. I asked them what they had been drinking, which then extended the laughing fit.

It was quite a sight, two old women, well into their 70’s, laughing hysterically to the point that breathing became difficult and their faces were flushed. I told them to knock it off before they both had a stroke and dropped dead right in front of me. Their laughter subsided for a moment while they considered that morbid thought, then continued even louder than before. Why the thought of their having a stroke and dropping dead in front of me would cause such activity was beyond me. Of course they had not been drinking, but simply enjoying each others’ company as only a life long love and friendship can.









Art work by Rebecca Glazier

(Age 12)

The theory of evolution states that if we were able to trace our ancestors back in time, some 4 billion years, we would find that the first life, our first ancestors, were single cell life forms. In 1868, Ernst Haeckel published his book, Natural History of Creation. In this, he proposed that embryos in their early stages show the similarities between the species, and since we are all related, the early stages look nearly identical. The term for this is called ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny. Repeat that to someone, and if they don’t mistake it for a foreign language, you just might sound highly educated. The picture below 1 is from Haeckel’s early works and lectures, which have since been shown to be quite inaccurate, but these pictures have remained in text books in one form or another for most of the 20th century and beyond.







This shows Haeckel’s illustrations of eight embryos in their various stages. Each stage is labeled as follows.
F – Fish
A – Salamander
T – Turtle
H – Chick
S – Pig
R – Cow
K – Rabbit
M – Human

In his book, Signature In The Cell, Stephen C. Meyer points out that Haeckel was a stanch materialist, (someone who believes the only things that exist are energy and matter), and that life could be explained by natural processes. “For Haeckel, finding a materialistic explanation for the origin of life was not just a scientific possibility; it was a philosophical imperative.”2 Why would some wish to disprove the existence of God? For many it is a freeing experience, thinking that they are not to be held responsible for their behavior and actions in this life. The thought of being self-governing, without restraint, appeals to many today, and did in Haeckel’s generation also.

The term, ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, which some of you may have seen in your biology text books, simply means the embryo stages of different animals are similar because of their evolutionary heritage. This theory which was promoted by Haeckel, is no longer mainstream, but is still considered by some to have merit, and consequently shows up in various text books 3 even today. Their use in text books is often a subtle plug for evolution, along with other evolutionary evidence. I spent some time this week looking for other science text books that display Haeckel’s embryos in one form or another. Below is a picture out of a 7th grade science book that has been used in the local school districts, published by Glencoe McGraw-Hill in 2000.






These kinds of drawings and their discrete efforts to promote evolution should be noted by parents of Jr. high and high school levels. Parents should look at their children’s science or biology books and see what information they teach on evolution, or if you’re taking biology in Jr. High or High School, take a look yourself for this kind of content. Granted the above picture is a watered down version of Haeckel’s embryos, but the implication is obvious. One feature of the above picture which they refer to as gill slits are not gill slits at all. In fact, they are not even slits, but simply folds around what will become the neck of a human embryo. These folds develop into the lower jaw, tongue, and necessary glands. We don’t even have the DNA instructions to form gills, because we have not evolved from a Nemo, a Dory, or a primordial soup hundreds of millions of years ago.

The human embryo receives its needed oxygen through the umbilical cord and never at any point from gills, gill slits, or any other method. Never at any point during the embryos development is ontogeny, (mode of production); recapitulates, (repeating); phylogeny, (evolutionary development and history). Furthermore, what is labeled as a tail is not a tail at all. During the early embryonic stages, the spine develops faster than the legs and arms, giving it the appearance of a tail. What we are, and what we are to become, is more than what we can observe on the surface.

Our DNA code, and a code must come from a language, and language must come from intelligence, is our blueprint of design. If you have a design, you must have a designer; if you have a blueprint you must have an architect. Much like the framing of a house, garage, or a store, which look the same at first, but then the finished product and purpose is quite different, so too is the development of the embryo. At first, the buildings all look box like, with 2×4’s and 2×6’s surrounding the structure, but look at the blue print and you can see that the plan and purpose for each building type is significantly different.

The Christian Answers Network puts it this way. “Notice, this is exactly what we would expect as evidence of good creative design and engineering practice. Suppose you were in the bridge-building business, and you were interviewing a couple of engineers to determine whom you wanted to hire. One fellow says, “Each bridge I build will be entirely different from all others.” Proudly he tells you “Each bridge will be made using different materials and different processes so that no one will ever be able to see any similarity between the bridges I build.” How does that sound? Now the next fellow comes in and says, “Well, out back is your yard and I saw a supply of I-beams and various sized heavy bolts and cables. We can use those to span either a river or the San Francisco Bay. I can adapt the same parts and processes to meet a wide variety of needs. You’ll be able to see a theme and a variation in my bridge building, and others can see the stamp of authorship in our work.” Which fellow would you hire?”4

In 1993, The Northern Star, a regional newspaper published in New South Wales, Australia, ran an article about a boy who had a fragment of cartilage removed from his neck. It was reported to have been fish gill cartilage, but after an investigation it was proved to be false. Nevertheless, in the article the reporter explained how in the early stages of the human fetus, fish gills develop, which as you now know, is utterly false and just continues to spread evolutionary misinformation. And this from a main stream newspaper.

I was chatting with someone last week about public schools and college. My impression was that she wished her boys had not attended college, or that they had attended a ‘Christian’ college instead. I think many of us may feel the same way, but it is important to understand what we may be promoting with that kind of mind set. Insulating our children from the teachings of evolution, humanistic philosophy, and other world religions will only delay the inevitable. Sooner or later with friends, other family members, at school, or in the work place, they will come across something counter to what we have taught them, and if they have just been insulated, they will be anything but prepared to deal with the evidence counter to their belief. Our mind set should be to immunize, or vaccinate them, not to isolate them.



1. Hopwood, Nick. “Pictures of Evolution and Charges of Fraud.” University of Cambridge, 2006. Web. 10 May 2013.

2. Meyer, Stephen, C. Signature in the Cell. New York: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.

3. Luskin, Casey. “What Do Modern Textbooks Really Say About Haeckel’s Embryos?” Discovery Institute, 27 March 2007. Web. 8 May 2013.

4. Parker, Gary. “Does the human fetus temporarily develop gills, a tail, and a yolk sac?” Christian Answers Network, 1998. Web. 7 May 2013.

Other sources

Cramming for the final

Reading Time: 6 minutes

What crime deserves an eternity of punishment?

Sounds like a marriage that if you say one wrong thing, your mate will ask for a divorce. Or the first time a child does something wrong, they are shipped off to the orphanage. Not a lot of room for error and comes off sounding very unforgiving. It is probable the person asking such a question is being rhetorical. By that I mean, they are simply asking the question to make a point; they are not really interested in your answer. Is the Pope Catholic? Do trees grow in the woods? Do I look fat in this dress? If you’re married, you better know how to answer that one. Or, one that would fit the above question, “You don’t expect me to actually believe any idiotic answer you come up with, do you?” You could approach such a question by asking a question in return. For example, “Do you believe in eternity?” or “Is there such a thing as a crime?” or “Can someone be punished for eternity, and if so, who would be doing the punishing?” Depending on your question, and their response, you have quite a few different possible directions. If it is determined they don’t even believe in God, you could bring up the argument that everything created must have a cause, everything that has a design has a designer, or everything built must have a builder. But I want to discuss the question from the perspective of a skeptic, someone who may or may not believe in God, but honestly can’t understand why they would be punished for a single crime, and that punishment would be everlasting. You might even struggle answering that question. If you’re one, don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. Most Christians don’t spend their time reading about and thinking about, how to respond to such difficult questions. Also sitting down, and typing out a thoughtful response, is a very different matter than responding to difficult questions on the fly.

What crime would deserve an eternal punishment? Most of us, when we first consider such an event, focus incorrectly on the crime itself. Would Hitler deserve an eternity in Hell for the slaughter of six million Jews? How about Stalin in his 30 year reign? Forced labor camps, masses of peasants and involuntary exile, World War II losses, political crimes, famine due to government policies, etc. Estimates range from 30 to 60 million. Would Stalin deserve an eternity of punishment? Without a doubt, Stalin was one of the worst, yet if you really think about it, eternity is a long time for 30 years of murdering even tens of millions of people. Maybe a year for every person killed would sound more reasonable, that way Stalin could have up to 60 million years in hell. Any time off for good behavior?

A couple weeks ago, Todd, our youth group leader, used a rope as an example of eternity. It was a great visual aid that he shared with everyone on Sunday. He had one end of a rope in his hands, (maybe six inches), wrapped in what looked like black electrical tape. The rest of the rope ran across the room and disappeared out the window. We were asked to imagine the rope that went out the window, continuing on forever. Around the earth, past the moon, sun, out of our galaxy, through and past other distant galaxies, going on forever. Todd then talked about how we live for this miniscule 6 inches of rope, when we should be concerned with the eternal end. When you put a crime or crimes in that perspective, it makes it even less palatable or reasonable that someone should be punished for eternity because of a deed or deeds they committed within those 6 inches of rope. If the ropes does not work for you, picture someone, after 70 years of deeds, being punished for billions and billions of endless suffering years. Does not sound fair to me.

As I said, a common mistake made when looking at this question is focusing on the crime, and not the judge. Ask any trial lawyer, one of the first questions they will ask is who the judge will be during the trial. Knowing the judge will often determine strategy and tactics used in the course of the trial. As important as knowing the judge is considering who the crime was committed against. Ray Comfort explained it this way in, The Defender’s Guide For Life’s Toughest Questions. Say you said you were going to beat your dog, it is doubtful there would be any consequence. Now if you threatened to beat up a police officer, then you could expect an arrest and an investigation, which could result in some jail time. Finally, if you were to threaten to beat up the President of the United States, then the result would be swift, severe, and possibly years in prison. The threat was the same across the board, but it was the individual, who was much more significant in each case, that made the difference.

The John Gill Commentary put it this way.
“Their excuses will not be regarded, their pleas will be of no avail, their pretensions to interest in Christ, and love to him, will be set aside; the sentence will remain irrevocable, and there will be no appeal from it, for there is no higher tribunal to bring the cause before; judgment having passed, the execution of it immediately follows: these goats, or formal professors, shall be obliged, whether they will or not, to depart from the presence of Christ; the angels will be ordered to take and cast them into everlasting burnings; they will be driven by them into hell, the place appointed for them; where they shall endure (yxun vnwe) ‘everlasting punishment’…”

Ouch! Sounds like bad news if you offend the Eternal God and Creator of the universe. It is not the crime that increases time served, but who the crime offends. In this case, the one being offended is not ‘only’ the judge, but the jury as well. Ask the skeptics if they have ever lied? If they are being honest they will say yes, and that of course makes them a liar. Ask them if they have ever cheated, again most will say yes, and that makes them a cheater. You can continue asking them if they have used the Lord’s name in vain, lusted after another person, or hated anyone. You see, Christ did not draw the line at the acts, but also the thoughts. Point out to them you are in the same boat, no one can escape the crimes we just listed, but Christ Himself who lived a perfect, flawless life, and who paid the price for our guilt. Matthew said in 5:28 “If a man has lustful thoughts of another woman he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” John said, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Some may object, stating they don’t do these things very often, but it only takes one lie to become a liar. One event of cheating to become a cheater. Hating one person to be a murder.

Once they understand the consequence of their crime or sin against a perfect and holy God, and that every crime, no matter how small, must be dealt with, then they can see how important the figure of Christ is and what he did for us on the cross. Our God is perfect and holy, and sin cannot abide in his presence. We are all sinners and are incapable of leading perfect lives, but the blood of Christ washes us perfectly clean so we can spend eternity with the judge and jury.

A single crime that deserves an eternity of punishment still sounds pretty harsh, but what about that we have but one decision to make to ensure an eternity of joy and everlasting peace? You never hear an atheist point out the fact that so many, when they embrace Christ, understanding their wretched and hopeless condition, get what seems to be a ‘get out of jail free card’ for eternity. What if Hitler and Stalin embraced Christ before their deaths? As unlikely as it sounds, had it happened we would spend eternity with them. Sounds distasteful doesn’t it? Maybe now you have an impression what an atheist thinks/feels when we say they are going to spend an eternity in hell if they don’t accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. It does sound like a single question final, and if you get it wrong, you lose in a very big way. True, but if you only make one right decision, then you also get to spend eternity in heaven.

Greg Koukl explains that Christianity is offensive enough without our making conditional statements which not only ignore the circumstances of the person asking the question, but that our reply can have eternal consequences. If you don’t know an answer, admit it, or maybe ask some questions yourself while you reflect a considerate reply. They may be more open to the Good News than what you think, so your reply is important.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” 1 Peter 3:15

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