Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Immanuel - God With Us


Is He Immanuel to you?

If you pray, do you often pray for God to "be with" you and/or others?  I do, too, at times.

However, if we consider that Immanuel - Jesus Christ - who was born as a baby on this earth so many years ago is truly "God with us" as the very name "Immanuel" means, then is there ever a time when He is not with us?

Let me present His Word to you and let His Spirit speak to you as He has been speaking to me as I ponder this.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. - Isaiah 7:14
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). - Matthew 1:22-23
 Raise the war cry, you nations, and be shattered!
   Listen, all you distant lands.
Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
   Prepare for battle, and be shattered!
Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted;
   propose your plan, but it will not stand,
   for God is with us. - Isaiah 8:9-10
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? 
If God is for us, who can be against us?  - Romans 8:31

The LORD Almighty is with us;
   the God of Jacob is our fortress. - Psalm 46:7

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; 
no one will snatch them out of my hand.  
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; 
no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 
I and the Father are one. - Jesus - John 10:27-30

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you 
and be with you forever—  the Spirit of truth. 
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. 
But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. 
Because I live, you also will live. 
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, 
and I am in you." - Jesus - John 14:16-20

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, 
the gospel of your salvation. 
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, 
the promised Holy Spirit, 
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance 
until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—
to the praise of his glory. - Ephesians 1:13-14

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 
As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 
neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.- Romans 8:35-39

"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  
- Jesus - Matthew 28:20

So, I ask you again:
Is He Immanuel to you?
If not, He can be.
If He is, rest in knowing that He is in you and with you 
now and forever. 

Merry Christmas!
God is with us.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wise Men Still Seek Him

Wise Men image from's Easton's Illustrated Dictionary
Wise Men.

I have been thinking a lot about them lately.  Even moreso after my son portrayed one in his kindergarten's Happy Birthday, Jesus play depicting the birth of Jesus as told in the Bible.

Were there 3 of them? 
Not necessarily.  Between the lot of them they brought three gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh - that we do know.  (Matthew 2:11)

Were they kings?   
Not necessarily.  Matthew does not call them kings in his gospel account to us of the birth of Christ.  According to the Holman Bible Dictionary, they were not called kings until A.D. 225 by Tertullian.  Depending upon the version of the Bible you read, they are however interchangeably called "magi".  The Holman Bible Dictionary says that their interpretation of the stars led them to find and honor Jesus, the newborn King.

What has had me thinking about these men so much lately?  
(Other than the seasonal obvious reasons...)
I have always taken for granted that the Bible refers to them as "wise men."  Sure that is also a somewhat technical descriptive term referring to their profession or position in society.  However, I kind of have this new notion in my mind that God, when inspiring the writing of His Word by His Spirit through Matthew, specifically chose to use words for these men that could and would very often be translated as "wise men." 

These men truly were wise in a few major aspects, if no other.  
  • They were wise enough to recognize the star that announced the arrival of our King.
  • They were wise enough to not only know the prophecies about the coming Messiah, but to recognize and acknowledge publicly that the Messiah had come and fulfilled the prophecies of Him.
  • They were wise enough to unwaveringly follow that star until it led them directly to Jesus.
  • They were wise enough to know that they were in no way above this new baby King, but instead owed Him great reverence in the form of bowing down to Him, worshiping Him, and even bringing Him precious and meaningful gifts.
  • They were wise enough to not trust King Herod but rather to trust a dream which warned them not to go back to Herod and tell him what he wanted to know about this new Kingly competition in the form of a baby.
I may be way off here, but I just love when the Spirit of God cues me in to some of the precious tapestry of how He has woven His Word together so perfectly and so specifically - word for word. 

With all of this in mind, you may or may not know or be royalty in human form---however, you can be a wise man just as these magi were in the days of Jesus' royal arrival on this earth. 

So, no matter what your status in life nor your current and past mistakes, do you still seek Him?  Will you now?
Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.  Jeremiah 29:12-14
I love those who love me, and those who seek me find meProverbs 8:17
Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7

Wise men (and women) still seek Him.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secrets of the Sixth Edition by Randall Hedtke

Natural Selection, Survival of the Fittest - ever heard of it?

I would venture to say that most if not all of you have.


Have you ever read the Theory of Natural Selection for yourself?

How about On the Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin - Have you read that?  Not just have you heard of it and/or learned about it in school---but have you read it for yourself?  How about all six editions of it?

Most people of our day have not actually read On the Origin of the Species (which contains the Theory of Natural Selection), though we have "studied" it in school and heard a lot of debate about it.  I myself fall into this category, I must admit.  And, as Randall Hedtke points out in his book Secrets of the Sixth Edition, I am not unlike most other people of my time - no matter what side of the fence we claim.  Basically, as he puts it, few people bother to read Origin,
"for two reasons.  First, Darwin's writing style was wordy, repetitious and vague; consequently, few people have the mental stamina or desire to read the book from beginning to end.  Second, there is little reason why anyone would want to read the Origin, since the basic concept of natural selection, or survival of the fittest, is explained in just a few sentences in most high school or college textbooks."
For this reason, Hedtke has not only read all six editions of Origin, but in Secrets of the Sixth Edition he has also brilliantly and logically presented quotes from each edition as well as countless other documentation from Darwin and a myriad of other well-respected scientists from his day to this day.  Secrets of the Sixth Edition is actually a collection of essays Hedtke has written based on his research over time of Darwin and Darwin's life work, On the Origin of the Species.

Rather than just taking what we hear as the "proven" gold standard for science and the origin of life, Hedtke challenges the reader to consider the facts and even the lack of facts for yourself.  As he repeatedly and accurately points out,
"In order to qualify evolution as a scientific theory, one would have to include alternative points of view for each item of evolution evidence, something evolution proponents, beginning with Darwin himself, have studiously avoided. In addition, all evidence unfavorable to evolution would have to be included. ... The typical evolution curriculum is not scientifically objective because it does not include counterinduction: alternative points of view for each line of evolution evidence.  Doctrines abhor counterinduction because it tends to enhance skepticism.  Theories, on the other hand, embrace counterinduction because it nurtures skepticism.  Evolution, as the textbooks present it, is not true science at all."
Futhermore, throughout Secrets Hedtke gives the reader a thorough presentation of who Darwin was, from Darwin's own words as well as that of many of his closest contemporaries.  As he shows us, Darwin was very mentally conflicted for many years of his life...until he published the sixth and final edition of Origin - the edition is which he deliberately discredits the theory of natural selection.  No, he did not recant evolution, but he knowingly discredited the cornerstone theory (natural selection) which gave/gives any merit to the theory of evolution as a whole.  Hedkte gives even more in-depth and compelling evidence and quotes that show that Darwin himself often wavered between opposing explanations for the world's origin, and,
"...if Darwin himself can waver between two opposing explanations for an earth's origins evidence, why are students not granted the same privilege..."?
Hedtke even points out that,
"Late in his life, in a conversation with the Duke of Argyll, the duke commented to Darwin, 'It was impossible to look at the numerous purposeful contrivances in nature and not see that intelligence was their cause.' Darwin 'looked at [him] very hard and said, 'Well, that often comes over me with overwhelming force; but at other times,' and he shook his head vaguely, adding, 'it seems to go away.'"
 These interesting, intriguing, very little-known quotes, conversations, and letters are mere tidbits of the wealth of information Hedtke offers in this logically presented argument for allowing alternative theories for the origin of the earth and of life itself to be presented, specifically in the classroom.  After all, evolution is not nearly as true to objective science as many may assume based on life-long indoctrination without counterinduction.

So, I challenge you - read Randall Hedtke's Secrets of the Sixth Edition.  Keep on open, objective mind as you do.  Use his numerous cited references to look deeper into it for yourself, if you like.  Then, come back to this evolution table and consider what you have objectively discovered.  No matter what you come away with, I challenge you after having objectively read this work of Hedtke's, to consider why it is so "wrong" to allow students in a classroom to be presented with more than just the evolution side of the origin of life coin.

Aren't we claiming true, objective science in the classroom and textbooks, after all?

Oh, and one other point of interest regarding the book:  though it is relatively short in length, it is not, in my opinion, a light read.  Hedtke does a great job of explaining the various quotes he uses, but those he quotes - especially Darwin - are often wordy and difficult to follow due to the time period in which they lived as well as their profession.  Additionally, as Hedtke is logically presenting a case and proving his point, he uses a large amount of scientific discussion, which is to be expected and is very thorough...but definitely not light reading by any means.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The War of the Socks

"Put your socks on." 

"I don't want to."

"I said put your socks on.  You get to wear your pajamas and house-shoes to school today for the Polar Express party, so you need to wear your socks in case you want to take off your shoes.  Your feet will stay warm and clean."

"I said I don't want to."

"I didn't ask what you want to do, I told you to put your socks on.  Do it now, or you will miss the party."

Sound familiar.  Possibly so.  But, it gets even better...

Finally, after crying dramatically while brushing teeth, getting two spankings, and stomping around the house saying, "I SAID I'M SORRY!" - finally, a truly apologetic five year old son came to me and had his socks on as he asked forgiveness for talking back and being bad.

I forgave---of course.

Then, I sent him to get his coat from the other side of the house.

I heard him calling me to come to him, and what did I find when I walked into the living room?

There he was, sitting there in the recliner with the most innocent look on his face and his legs crossed...socks laying ON THE FLOOR...putting his house-shoes back on...saying, "Mommy, can you call my teacher and ask her if it is okay if I come to school with no socks on?"


Where did that sweet, repentant, sincerely apologetic boy go?  Mind you, he was still being sweet...BUT, WHAT IS HE THINKING!?!  Oh, the nerve!

Fast forward a bit and a boy with socks on under his house-shoes finally got to school late after having very sincerely apologized again ("Mommy, I'm sorry for all of that trouble."). 

Knowing these are his last few days at this precious school he loves before changing mid-year to a new one very far away, this mother just could not force him to stay home from such a special day...rebellion or not.

All of this reminds me of how God loves His children - the Israelites of the Old Testament days as well as all of His children in all generations.  As I am reading through Isaiah, I see our Father repeatedly warning the Israelites of the dangers of not obeying Him and of seeking refuge in anyone other than their God.  He loves them and us so much, it truly angers Him to know His children will repeatedly rebel, disobey, and even scoff at Him and His words of love and protection for them. 

Yet---He still promises them renewal and refuge.  Hope and peace. 

In spite of their inevitable attempts at life without Him, He continually protects them and provides for them---and us.  Yes, punishment is often necessary as is purging and cleansing from the idols His children often welcome into their lives.  But, after the purging and cleansing, there is a promise of peace and rest.

See for yourself:

“Woe to the obstinate children,”
   declares the LORD,
“to those who carry out plans that are not mine,
   forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
   heaping sin upon sin;
who go down to Egypt
   without consulting me;
who look for help to Pharaoh’s protection,
   to Egypt’s shade for refuge.
 For these are rebellious people, deceitful children,
   children unwilling to listen to the LORD’s instruction.  

 “In repentance and rest is your salvation,
   in quietness and trust is your strength,
   but you would have none of it."

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
   therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
   Blessed are all who wait for him!  Isaiah 30:1-2, 9, 15, 18

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
   who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
   and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
   or seek help from the LORD. 

...the LORD Almighty will shield Jerusalem;
he will shield it and deliver it,
   he will ‘pass over’ it and will rescue it.” 
Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against.  For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made. Isaiah 31:1, 5-7

The LORD’s justice will dwell in the desert,
   his righteousness live in the fertile field.
The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
   its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
   in secure homes,
   in undisturbed places of rest.  Isaiah 32:16-18
In this season of the year in which we reflect on our lives - past, present, and future - consider what part(s) of your life you are trying to do on your own.

Are you struggling to get your own way?  To go barefoot instead of putting on your socks, as you know you should do? 

Quit being obstinate.  It's more strain on you, now and in the long run. 

"Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against."

Return to Him and rest in Him.

Does this resonate with you?  If so, how?  I look forward to hearing your thoughts.  Oh, and sorry for the long absence from posting on my part ... life has been "happening" ... a lot!