Evolution vs. Creation – What Do You Believe?

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“Although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21)

It’s the simplest truth, taught to the littlest children: God created the whole world. It is the opening statement of the Holy Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  This truth is foundational to our understanding of who God is, and in turn who we are.  Mankind has had one of three responses to the biblical account of creation:

Some receive it as truth and accept God as Creator.

Some receive it as a possible truth and add God to their harem of higher powers.

Some outright reject it and deny the power, and often the existence of God.

The Bible calls those who reject the truth godless and wicked because there is proof of God in every tree, flower, mountain, and star and even in their mirror every morning. (Romans 1:18-20).  From the highest heavens that man can see with a telescope to the smallest micro-cellular level of life, God’s fingerprint is clearly visible.  You really have to stretch to deny creation by God.  There’s too much evidence in favor of intelligent design and an intelligent Designer.

Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary science admitted that it is “[extremely difficult] or rather [impossible to] conceive this immense and wonderful universe, including man” without being convicted of the existence of God.  He said he felt “compelled to look to a First Cause” and as such even desired to be called a Theist (one who believes in God).  Yet he abandoned that “strong conclusion” and devised the evolutionary theory that the world has received as an alternative to the truth.  (Taken from a video lecture by Dr. David DeWitt).  All that he could see around him convinced him of the existence of God, but his arrogance led him to reject God and “suppress the truth by [his] wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain  . . . because God has made it plain” (Romans 1:18-19).  His theory has lead millions of human souls away from God.

You and I chose what we believe.  Are you making the right choice?

“Evolution vs. Creation – What  Do You Believe?” first appeared at Deeper Roots: http://dbethandrews.wordpress.com.

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Big Little Words

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“Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

The little book of Philemon is one of those books in that Bible that I thought had no value for me – I mean it only covers one page and is just Paul’s personal letter to a friend about a slave.  Not as inspiring as the Psalms, not instructive like his letters to Timothy, not even about Jesus like the Gospels.  Until I saw it through fresh eyes and the Holy Spirit.  Philemon is the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ in 25 verses. 

Philemon was the owner of a slave named Onesimus, who desperately desired freedom from his bondage.  He did the only thing he could do and ran away from his master, and apparently stole from him as well.  Through God’s grace he connects with Paul who is in prison and who leads Onesimus to salvation in Christ.  Now he wants to make things right with his master, but fears the repercussions of his actions.  Paul intercedes for him, reminding Philemon that his former slave is now his brother in Christ.  Paul asks for Onesimus’ release so that he can serve with Paul.

The gospel says that you and I were slaves to sin and death, and though we desperately desired to be free, our best attempts only made our situation worse.  We are fearful of God, condemned because of our sinful human nature.  Then through God’s grace, Jesus finds us and offers us true freedom.  Now we can come to God without fear because Jesus has made things right between us and intercedes before the Father for us.

The heart of this book is also the heart of the Gospel: “If [Onesimus] has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me . . . I will pay it back” (v. 18, 19).  You and I have wronged God and we owe Him a debt we can never repay.  Jesus took our sin-debt and paid it with His own precious blood.  If you are in Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin and death.  You are free by God’s grace.  You are a child of God and a Christ is your brother.  There is power in every word of the Word of God.  Power to set you free.

 

The post “Big Little Words” first appeared on Deeper Roots at https://dbethandrews.wordpress.com/

 

Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear

5867554“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.  Listen to Him!” Matthew 17:5

Facebook.  Instagram.  Twitter. Blogs. Articles.  Books.  Everyone has an opinion, and we all want to be heard.  Whether it’s politics, childrearing, fashion or religion, the world – and that includes you and me – is quick to share their thoughts on any given subject.  Some are more, shall we say prolific, than others (think Kardashian) and some only speak when it’s something they are passionate about.  Or maybe, we’re so busy doing all the talking we can’t hear what others have to say.  I’m a writer, so I’m as guilty as the next person.  The question is, in this sea of public opinion, whose opinion are we listening too?  Kim K’s?  The media’s?  The candidates’? Or our own?

Jesus took three disciples with Him to the mountain top to witness the extraordinary – His glory coupled with the appearance of Moses, who represented the Law, and Elijah, who represented the prophets.  Peter was so overcome with excitement that he started babbling his opinion – “Let’s make three booths, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Matthew 17:4).  I have no doubt that James and John were nodding their heads in eager agreement.  They had the wisest of wise men and the very Son of God before them and the three disciples couldn’t hold their tongues long enough to hear what they had to say.  God had to shake them up – and shut them up.

When I was much younger and more naïve spiritually, I attended a weekly Bible study.  I cringe when I recall asking the teacher, “Do I really have to read the Bible? Can’t I just read books about the Bible? It’s too hard to understand.”  She was wise and patient in her answer: “Never take anyone else’s opinion for what God has to say but God Himself.”  That has stuck with me for thirty years and now, as a Bible teacher, I tell my classes the same thing.   Only God’s opinion matters.  What others have to say, no matter how profound they seem, whether it’s Billy Graham, Beth Moore, or Dorcas Beth Andrews – you take it to the Holy Word of Holy God and verify it against the Scriptures that were inspired by the Spirit of God.  That’s what the Berean church did and the Bible calls them people of “noble character, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11).

Want to know what really matters in the cacophony of voices? You’ll find it between the pages of Genesis and Revelation.  God’s Word matters above every other voice.  Find out what He has to say to you.

Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear first appeared on Deeper Roots at dbethandrews.wordpress.com.

How Awesome!

“Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28).

wonder-and-awe1I read an article Sunday in the newspaper about awe.  There was actually a three-year research project done on awe at UCal Berkley, their report included such awesome 😉 findings as “Awe binds us together,” “Awe helps us see things in new ways,” “Awe makes us nicer – and happier,” and “Awe alters our bodies.”  It also touted “the healing potential of awe.”  Suggestions for finding awe included observing nature, listening to music and one I heartily agree with – putting down the ever present cell-phone and simply looking up. [1]

I don’t dispute any of their findings or suggestions, but the article failed to ask and answer some very important questions, such as “Why do we feel awe?” and “What makes something awe-inspiring?”  I’d like to take a stab at them myself – with the help of the Scriptures.

We feel awe because we were created for worship – and worship is at its purest and truest when it is accompanied by awe.  The article says “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast or beyond human scale, that transcends our current understanding of things.” (Dacher Keltner)[2]  Is there anything more vast or farther beyond our human understanding than the God of the Universe?  David declared “You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary” (Psalm 68:35)!

What makes something awe-inspiring is when we, in our smallness, stand in the presence of greatness.  I’ve seen the Grand Canyon, and it is awesome, because it is huge and beautiful.  Deuteronomy 7:21 says “The Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God.”  When we sense the presence of God we have no other response but awe.  Actually, when we truly sense the awesome presence of God we cannot stand at all.

Still, the most important question is, “What happened to our sense of awe?”  Sin happened. Pride happened.  The sin of Adam and Eve, at its root, is the sin of pride.  Where pride reigns, we lose the necessary humility to be awed.  My friend, if you ponder the fact that the holy, sovereign God of heaven and earth has singled you out for salvation and relationship and eternal life you should be humbled and awed.  Nothing is more incredible, more grand and glorious and more awe-inspiring than that.

[1] Paula Spencer Scott, “Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness,” Parade, Sunday, October 9, 2016, 6-8.

[2] Dacher Keltner is a psychologist who heads the University of California, Berkeley’s Social Interaction Lab and helped create the new Facebook response button emojis.

When Your Faith is Shaken

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“Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens” (Haggai 2:6)

Ever had your faith shaken?  I have, and I know many of you have as well.  It is a terrifying feeling, but I believe sometimes it is necessary.  That shaking comes in many forms.  The Bible is filled with examples like Abraham when God told him to sacrifice his only son, David as he ran for his life from his enemies, or Daniel spending the night in a den full of hungry lions.  I often think of Peter, who declared his allegiance to his Lord, then denied Jesus just hours later.  In each instance, these men faced something they never expected, something that shook them to the core.  And that is the whole point.

Hebrews 12 says that God shakes up our lives “[to remove] what can be shaken – that is created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain” (v. 27).  When God allows our faith to be shaken He is removing those things we tend to trust in and rely on that are not rock-solid and stable.  Things like financial stability, people, heath, jobs – no doubt you can add your own.  These are things that will always let us down because they are “created things,” things the world offers that are flimsy and temporal.  God has better things for us.  Things that “cannot be shaken.”  Like genuine love, hope, peace, and eternal life – all built on the rock-solid and stable foundation of “a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (v. 28).

If your faith is built on shaky ground, it will not stand when it really matters.  God wants to give you faith that endures, faith that secures and faith that cannot fail.  Is the ground shaking where you stand?  Consider Abraham, David, Daniel and Peter – they were shaken to their core, and became and mighty men of God and great saints of faith.  Beloved, be assured – God is shaking you up to build you up.

“When Your Faith is Shaken”  appeared first at Deeper Roots: http://www.dbethandrews.wordpress.com.

Separation

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“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:51).

I recently started reading the Bible again from the very beginning. I’ve read it through many times, and with each reading I gain some new understanding or insight.  This time it came in the very first chapter.  In the Genesis account of creation one thing stood out to me: separation.   Over and over, the author of Genesis either used the word separate specifically or by implication.

He separated the light from the darkness (v. 4).

He separated the waters above from the waters beneath (v. 7).

He separated the land from the seas (v. 9).

He separated the day from the night (v. 14)

He created plant life and animals: birds, sea creatures, livestock, wild animals, even reptiles according to their kinds – an implication of separation (vv. 21, 24, 25).

Then He created man – after His own image, separated from all the other life forms (v. 27).

From the very first day of creation, God established this principle of separation.  He maintained this principle consistently.  When Adam and Eve chose to sin, He separated them from their perfect home—and from Himself.  He called Abraham to separate himself from his ancestral home and practices (Gen. 12:1).  Then He commanded the people of Israel to remain separated from the nations around them (Ex. 34:10-17; Deut. 7:1-11).  And most significantly, when giving Moses the directions for the Tabernacle, He commanded that a curtain would shield the Ark of the Covenant—separating the people from God.  When King Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, a curtain again stood between God and man.

For centuries the Hebrew people were required to keep distance between themselves and God’s presence.  Only the high priest could enter, only once per year, and only by way of a blood sacrifice.  No common person dared draw near.

Until that dark Friday afternoon.

Until the day Jesus died.

Jesus – the God-man – hung on a cross bearing the sin and condemnation for every human that ever lived.  He took your sin and mine upon His own shoulders.  He bore the weight of His Father’s rejection, crying out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Matt. 15:34). Jesus was now separated from His Father.  And as death begin to crush the life out of Him, an unseen hand reached down from heaven, into the Temple, and tore the tall, heavy curtain in two – from the top down (Matt. 27:51).  The perfect blood sacrifice had been given and man was no longer separated from his Creator.

Jesus’ death closed the chasm that stood between us and God.  We no longer have to stand apart from His holiness because Christ’s blood makes us holy.  We are free to enter into God’s presence through the sacrifice of the His one and only Son.  Paul confirms that we have been reconciled to God in his great doxology:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution

or famine or nakedness or danger or sword. 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, 37-39).

God began creation by separation, and for centuries He maintained a distance between Himself and man.  But through the blood of Jesus, God threw the barriers aside and He now invites us to “draw near” and to “approach the throne of grace” (James 10:22; 4:16).  When He tore the curtain God said, “No more separation.”  He declared “You are welcomed into My presence.”  We are no longer sinful creatures on the outside looking in; we are dearly loved children of the King of the Universe.

Holy Father, it staggers my mind to think that I can draw near to You.  I am in awe that You made it possible through the death of Your Son.  Now nothing stands between You and me, not a curtain, not a power, not anything in creation—not even my sin—because of Jesus.  Thank You Lord for loving me so much!  Amen.

The post Separation first appeared at Deeper Roots – dbethandrews.wordpress.com

Who God Made Me to Be

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“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

“Lord, I wish You had given me a beautiful voice. I would love to sing like her.”  “God why do I have to be so short?”  “If only I had so-and-so’s creative talents, I could make so many pretty things.”

I know you’ve said something similar and so have I.  We look at others who sing or play or create or have some other seeming advantage over us and wonder why we are the way we are.  Too short. Too tall.  Shy.  A little rough around the edges.  I want to be someone else – someone better.  But I’m just plain ole’ me.

I thought that way once too.  I’m rather loud and, as a former boss once said, “she doesn’t suffer from a lack of self-expression.” I was a chatterbox when I was a little girl and that never changed.  I was often told, “You need to talk less and listen more.”  But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t change.   Oh how I longed to be like those quiet, dignified ladies who always spoke with an “inside” voice.  They didn’t burst out with laughter.  They listened patiently to others.  They didn’t always have to express their thoughts and opinions.  They were everything I was not.

A while back I had the opportunity to attend a nationally-known Christian women’s conference.  I wasn’t planning to go.  It had been a very difficult year for my family and I just didn’t have the money for such a luxury, but my dear friends pitched in and provided for my ticket, hotel and meals, plus a little spending money too.  It was an unexpected blessing.  We had snagged seats on the floor in the very front row, nothing between us and the stage but a few feet of open space.  I sat near the end of the row and had a bird’s eye view of the platform where the other speakers sat waiting their turn and listening to the person on stage.  I had a blast.  The speakers were both profoundly spiritual and hysterically funny.  I listened and I laughed.  No, I howled.  I roared with laughter.  I nearly fell in the floor a few times with my sides splitting.  I so needed this event; it fed my spirit and released a lot of tension.

Before the final speaker we all took a break (picture 14,000 women running to the bathroomsJ).  I stood in the line beside a new friend I’d seen at church, but never took the time to get to know.  We shared the hotel room with two other women that weekend and we just clicked.  As we waited I told her, “I’m so glad to get to spend this time with you.  I’ve always admired your quiet, gentle spirit and I hope some of it has rubbed off on me.” She turned to me with a puzzled look and said, “I’ve always admired your bold, fun spirit, and I was hoping the same thing for me.”  We laughed and hugged, finished our business and went back to our seats.

As I was putting my purse back under my seat, I felt a hand touch my back. I stood up and turned to face the president and emcee of the conference.  She told me, “I just wanted you to know how much the speakers have enjoyed watching you having such a good time this weekend.  It really blesses them to see you respond to what they are saying.”  I thanked her and shared with her that this weekend had been a gift from my friends and she said, “Clearly God had a reason for you to be here, if nothing else to be a blessing to our team of speakers.”

I sat down in stunned silence – one of the few times I’ve ever been that quiet.  As I thought about what she said and the conversation with my friend during the break, I heard that “still, small voice” speak to my heart.  “Child, don’t you realize – your mouth and personality are not a character flaw. It’s how I made you. I gave you that big mouth because I intend to use it.  You’re going to be my voice in the world.”

Precious friend, it’s time to stop looking at who you aren’t and focus on who God created you to be.  Maybe you don’t have a soaring soprano voice, but no one can build a better stage than you.  Your gift is important in the Kingdom of God.   Perhaps you stumble and stammer as a public speaker, but you are able to build one-on-one relationships that lead to changed lives.  I have a friend who is quite short and is able to relate well with children because she can literally get down on their level.  If you wish you could create something beautiful but you keep hot-gluing your fingers together, don’t fret.  God has created you for a special purpose that is unique and specific.  Paul says that you are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for [you] to do” (Ephesians 2:10).  It’s an important word and something only you can fulfill.

You are exactly who you are because God created you with a unique plan and a specific purpose in mind –be thankful that you are one-of-a-kind and let your light shine for the Lord.

Holy Father, I’ll never forget Your words to me that day.  I am who I am because You made me this way, to do Your good work.  My voice, my hands, my feet, my smile, my gifts and talents – it’s all Yours.  Use me Lord.  Amen.

(If you want to learn more about your unique spirit gifts, I recommend https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/analysis/index.php as a good spiritual gifts inventory resource.)