"Mean": Adj. - 'humble, obscure, or lowly'

O Thou Who camest from above,
The pure celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love,
Upon the mean altar of my heart.

Spiritual thoughts by
Daniel J. Clausen, author of HOW GODS ARE MADE

A division of Codex Spiritualis

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miracle Birth - The Full Story of Ariel's Arrival

"Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" 

I don't use the word "miracle" lightly.
Discover God's faithfulness in every step of this story.
Our daughter Ariel was born at home Nov. 29, 2012. She was 12 lbs. 15 oz. 
We had a planned home birth with two midwives, my pastor's faithful wife, and my mother-in-law.
Her name means "Lioness of God."

I want to tell this story to extol the great glory that belongs to our God through the name of Jesus Christ. 
I don't have any great interest in just "sharing" our experience. All glory, honor, power and strength belongs to God.

The Lord is faithful, and speaks to us in diverse ways and manners. Through prayer, through His Word, His people, and prophecy. There is a daily prophetic word that we pay attention to, namely because it has been so clear, directive, timely and accurate, I have read it often over the past seven years.
The day before the birth, Nov. 28, 2012, read as follows:

November 28, 2012:  Beloved, I am taking you to a high place where I will reveal more of who you are in Me.  Even though you have come a long ways, there is yet more to be revealed.  Be prepared to navigate through places that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable.  As greater revelation of My kingdom is made known to you, you will have to make the necessary adjustments that will allow for more complete unity with Me and those who belong to Me, says the Lord.  Psalm 133:1-3  Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.  It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing—Life forevermore.

Little did I know how much we would have to navigate that was unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Little did I know the unity of the brethren we would need in prayer. Little did I know how much we needed the commanding of the Lord's blessing of Life forevermore.

The Day of the Birth

The day of the birth, events were progressing smoothly. After about two weeks of unproductive labor, now known to be because of a *large* baby, we were excited to finally have the process in full swing. Things were also moving pretty quickly, considering the long labor we had with Elia. Spirits were high, faith was flowing.
Then there was a change.
Ariel's head was pushing through, which is often a pretty stressful time for both mother and baby. In light of that, the midwives did a check with the fetal heart monitor to see if the baby was stressed with an elevated heart rate.
But there was no stress. Because there was no heart beat. She was dead.
The midwives sprang into action, first calling 911, and then contorting poor Courtni in every manner they could think of to get that baby out, but she just wasn't coming. A certain level of panic began to set in. Not allowing this baby to come on her own sweet time, the midwives all but tried to tear the baby out, reaching inside, pulling, clipping - everything that could be done. They were quite heroic.
Finally, she came out.
And she lay on the floor, dead. Blue, having never taken a breath of air. Limp, and unmoving.

I stared in horror and disbelief as the midwives tried for several minutes to revive her with little chest compressions and air, but nothing was happened.
I began to think on how to adjust my expectations of having a beautiful newborn baby to forever having a hole in my heart. I begged the situation to be different. I hoped it was a dream.
But then something woke me from my cloud of despair and the mire of surrender and defeat.
I don't remember exactly what was said, but Courtni said something to the effect of "Oh God, please, no."

It snapped me back to reality!
I remembered all in an instant, who I was and what I believe, and in turn, I knew exactly what to do. PRAY!
Now, my pastor's wife had been praying fervently in the other room the whole time. 
Unbeknownst to us, the Lord independently called upon many faithful, strong folks to pray on our behalf at that very time, about 6:30 in the evening. They didn't know why they prayed, but the unity of the brethren was fulfilled.
As I remembered who I was in Christ, in an instant, faith was restored. There was no surrender, no doubt. I was overcome with the fullness of a feeling that said, "This shall not be."

So I stretched forth my hand, and commanded her to live in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life.
Within seconds, her heart rate returned. After about a minute, she started breathing. Then a cry.
When the paramedics arrived, they had to call back to there fellows, saying, "Call back that order, call it back, the situation is not what we expected."
We don't really know how long she was gone, because it is unknown how long she was without a heartbeat before it was discovered it was gone - but from the time of the heartrate check to the birth was about 10 minutes. Birth to Life was *estimated* 6 minutes, for a total of approximately 15-20 minutes that she was dead. If you ask me, being 1 minute dead is long enough. Those minutes were like eternities.

And the prophecy for that day, Nov. 29, 2012 was as follows:

November 29, 2012:  Raise up a standard of faith in the midst of your circumstances.  Take every opportunity to trust Me with all of your heart.  Refuse to allow negativity, doubt, or unbelief to undermine your rock-solid faith, says the Lord.  Face your fears and overcome.  The outcome of your situation depends on it!  Be strong and resilient even in great difficulty.  I am with you to bring you through to victory.  Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

We went to the hospital with the paramedics, and I held her the whole way, rejoicing. Courtni had lost a lot of blood in the process, and due to the violence of the birth, part of the placenta was still stuck to her uteran wall, just continually pouring blood. Courtni and I had to split upon arrival, and she swore me not to leave Ariel's side. I didn't.
They had some concerns about Ariel due to her stressful delivery. They spoke about broken limbs, brain damage, vegetation, seizures, and permanence. Things looked grim, and I didn't know the future. However, at this point, knowing the Lord brought her to life, I knew that He would prosper her after she was living as well. Our worry was pretty minimal.

Due to all the concerns they had about Ariel, they decided to send her that night to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unity in Farmington. Adding to it, because she was such a big baby, she had trouble regulating her sugars. This was an expected thing, just due to her size, and resolves in time naturally so long as she is given glucose or food to maintain her sugar levels.

They took Courtni and helped remove the remaining placenta and stopped the bleeding. She stayed overnight and I checked her out the next morning, and we went to Farmington.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)

The next day, I went to Farmington to get the full assessment. They did an X-Ray on her left arm, it had a fracture, and so they pinned her little arm to her chest so she couldn't move it. Her right arm on the other side wasn't moving at all. They said she had "stretched nerves." Our midwives said they have seen children that it takes a year or two before they even move that arm, even though it does tend to resolve itself over time. 
And her sugar was still diving.

Prophetic word given for Nov. 30th, 2012:

November 30, 2012:  I am releasing a wave of extraordinary grace that will see you through the weeks ahead.  For, I will indeed empower you to do what is necessary to fulfill that which is required of you.  This is a time to lean on Me for strength and wisdom.  Do not forget that I am your help in times of trouble, so you must not depend on your own understanding.  Rather, rise up in the supernatural realm of the Spirit to gain insight and spiritual support, says the Lord.  2 Corinthians 12:9  And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my weakness, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Knowing this, we were filled with spiritual strength. We prayed. As did everyone else at this point as well. Thank you, Lord for your compassionate people!
Courtni and I were largely split, one at the hospital, one at home with Elia, alternating.

Prayer changed everything.
The next day, her bruising was gone. 
They noticed she was in no discomfort with her fractured left arm, so they got another X-Ray.
The fracture was gone. I don't know what they thought - if there was a hair on the X-Ray film or what, they just said, "So... I guess there wasn't a fracture.. huh." But we know it is the Lord that healeth.
Her nerve-stretched right arm has about 85% mobility already, in days, not years.

The only remaining issue was her sugar regulation, which had nothing to do with her violent birth, just being large. Upon asking the nurses when she would get out, they said, "Well, regulating the glucose can be a slow process... sometimes it goes up, sometimes down and you have to start from scratch. Probably a few weeks."
My wife boldly declared to her in that instant, "I think you are going to be very surprised how quickly her sugar regulates."

And so it was, every time they reduced the glucose, Ariel handled in stride, never dipping into the unacceptable zone. They increased her feeding steadily without ever having to pull back as they expected. Due to policy, they kept her there until the Thursday, the 6th about a week after we arrived. (They understandably don't take risks with at risk newborns at the NICU.) 
We were expecting to be discharged that day.
We were literally packing up to go out the door at about 1pm, and the doctor came in and said, "We got some tests back... and there were some abnormalities."

The tests had all kinds of things wrong in her liver function, thyroid function, several other things. They had to get another blood sample and re-test. They said while one of the tests would come back sooner, just a few hours, most of the others wouldn't be back for about a day. The devil was really trying to press us at this point.
So, I stayed at the NICU and my wife went home alone. We were initially heartbroken. We thought we would have her with us that night. But we were praying, still.

<"Thomas" Conversation with Courtni occured here, see next section>

About 5:30pm, the doctor came in to see me at the NICU and said, "We got the first test back, and everything is normal... and since that one's status basically indicates the results of the others, we decided you can either stay the night here again, or call your wife to drive back and come get you and your baby."
I said, "My wife would kill me if I didn't call her right this instant." So I did. And we went home.

The reason why the tests were abnormal is because they took the blood for those tests within an hour of her coming back to life, so the tests showed her brain, liver, thyroid and other things in a state of critical failure.
But. They weren't. She was alive now. Alive by the power of God, for the Life of God. Everything is normal.


When my wife was pregnant with Elia, she prayed, and got a word from the Lord saying the child would be called "Ephraim." We looked it up in the hebrew, and saw it meant, "Double Portion." A wonderful promise we stood on. We considered it similar to the prophecy in Isaiah, calling Christ, "Immanuel," and that's not His name, but a representation of who He was.
Before we ever got pregnant with Ariel, my wife prayed about having another child. The Lord told her we would have another child, and would be called, "Thomas." This time, it made me apprehensive. I told Courtni that I wasn't sure I wanted another baby, because I was afraid she would grow to be an apostate, after all, Thomas is known as "Doubting Thomas." That is what he is famous for.

But at the NICU, after the doctors told us about the abnormalities, I had a new understanding of what "Thomas" was about.
I came to the realization that what Thomas was doubting was the RESURRECTION, but when he SAW the RISEN Lord, he bowed down and cried, "My Lord, My God," full of faith in the realization, becoming an apostle of Christ.

The lesson of Thomas in Ariel is this: Don't doubt the power of the resurrection. In seeing this living child, in knowing this story, the Lord has ordained it so it would bless many, so they could see, and believe.

And so our faith was solid. The devil seeing we were unmoved at the news of abnormalities, backed off, and we took our baby home that night at 5:30pm.

I've seen some miracles first-hand before. I've seen the mute speak. I've seen some incurable diseases like Herpes and Hepatitis leave with no recurrence, in the name of Jesus. Many others. But to me, as a father, this takes the cake. I am forever thankful.

That's basically the whole story. Ariel has been home with us for a few weeks now, she is a normal, fattycake healthy newborn. She is sweet and cuddly and chubby.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Should Christians Abandon Christmas?

Should Christians Abandon Christmas?

I celebrate the birth of our Savior. This is not meant as a condemnation on any. I am a questioner by nature, and as such, I think about, and examine, many things that are perhaps taken for granted. My inquisitive spirit is not meant to be a slight or offensive to any, for my thoughts are often detached and without feeling. I know this is sacred ground to some. Consider these words a thought experiment. Rather than dismissing the matter before hearing it, just consider what I have written on its own merit. If it fails, continue on your way, without giving another thought. Please read the entirety of this entry so as not to misunderstand, misrepresent or unduly dismiss me. If after everything, I am still a fool to you, let it be so, only let us be kind to one another.

Should Christians Abandon Christmas?
The answer to that question will be one of your own conscience, and I will not force the issue. However, I will here make the case that we should, not only as individuals, but as the entire body of believers, abandon Christmas.

First, let me say what are not my main arguments – those things that historically have been used to malign Christmas, although these things perhaps ought to be considered as aggravating circumstances to the discussion, so I will briefly mention them. Each will play a role in the final conclusion, however.

  1. This is not a post all about the pagan roots of Christmas.
Its true, the season of the Solstice and its accompanying festivals and traditions have strong roots in European paganism, and have found their way into our cultural celebration of Christ's birth. Festivals like Saturnalia, Yule, and the birth of Sol Invictus, are the direct precursors to our modern festivities. To some, this argument is compelling, because it shows Christmas is a textbook example of SYNCRETISM, the melding of true belief, with pagan practices, creating an offspring that looks unlike the original parts.
The most common objection to this by Christians is, “Well, the Lord knows my heart, that I am worshiping Him. When I do those things that have pagan origin, thats not the reason why I do them, so my heart is clean.” I imagine the same line of thinking was used in the Old Testament by the Israelites who were worshiping the Lord by sacrificing in the pagan High Places, and in the Asherah Groves. The logic is the same, and the logic was condemned by the Lord. I would also add, that whenever I hear someone say “The Lord knows my heart,” it is really a silent admission that they know they do wrong, but do not have the will to change it. If your heart is pure, why not let your actions match?

  1. This is not a post all about the evils of Santa.
We know Santa is not Jesus, so I will not belabor the point. I will say though that there is a conspicuous coincidence that “Santa” is an anagram for “Satan,” just a remixture of the letters. Also funny that these seemingly undying individuals, are seemly ever present, examining our actions in a red suit, flying around at night with their horned minions and supernatural helpers. One, we Lie about, the other is the Father of Lies. Funny coincidence is all.
Funny that Santa, in his modern conception, is a creation of the Coca-Cola corporation. Corporations, which seem to dictate the will, whim, and tone of the Christmas season anyway.

  1. This is not a post all about the evils of Commercialism.
Commercialism is Americanism, it is the Spirit of the Age, there is no avoidance.

                                                      So What Is This All About?
This is about abandoning Christmas because Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. I respect and admire the people who want to reclaim the “reason for the season,” however, its not an entirely true statement. The world is only taking back what was originally theirs (see reason #1). This holiday was co-opted by the Christians by executive decree of Constantine to ease the conversion of worshipers of Sol Invictus. The holiday is about Santa Claus now, Christmas Trees and presents. Its about fresh fallen snow, presents and candy canes. And presents. It has nothing to do with Jesus.

Two Traditions
The Bible speaks of two kinds of tradition, there are the “traditions of men”, which are spoken evil of, as a corrupting force to the word of God, and there is the “tradition of Christ and the Apostles,” which we are to hold onto for dear life. Christmas is a time where the two traditions meet and intermingle, creating confusion and misinformation. Do we, who are the worshipers of the God who “hates every false way,” not care if our lump is leavened?

Three Kings”
Not those three kings! In the books of Chronicles and Kings, there are basically three sorts of kings.
1. There are those who outright worship false gods.
2. There are those who worship the Lord, but do not tear down the high places or discourage sacrifice there.
3. And there are those who worship the Lord and tear down the high places and the groves, restoring the unmingled worship of God.
We sometimes wonder why the second group didn't go all the way, and we often admire the last group of kings and honor them for their bravery and greatness. But just think how difficult it really is to overturn long-held mixed practices? It is very difficult, and those who wish to cling to the traditions of men tend to get angry that you would even call it into question. We don't purposefully want to be those who despoil the populous, but neither do we want to be afraid to do so if it is the right thing to do.
Which sort of King will you be?

Jesus did something similar when He overturned the moneychangers tables at the temple. Those men didn’t just show up that weekend deciding to change money. They were there for hundreds of years, as barrier to the worship of God, forcing people to use Temple Currency to buy sacrifices at incredible exchange rates. People always look to make money off of pure, innocent worshipers, but Jesus would have none of it. Is not Christmas, in many ways, a way to make money off of worshipers? Does it not make money a barrier to God? How many people, when financially struggling, feel they have had a “bad Christmas” because they couldn’t afford many, or expensive gifts? But in that day, He overturned that long-held tradition at the temple, establishing an new order of freedom to worship, apart from financial gain. He says, "Come and worship, no matter how much you have."

Abandon Christmas

That is why I suggest we follow the earliest traditions and modern scholarship, and re-establish the birth of Christ at its rightful time, and celebrate it, unencumbered by worldly tradition, in a way that becomes Christians.

Instead, we carry on trying to clarify the confusion of the season. 
Instead, we give credibility  and ammunition to those who say “Christianity is just a repackaging of pagan practices.” They point to our holidays as a means to make their point.

One thing I've learned, is when you're wrong, just admit it. Why maintain the ruse to our detriment? Christ has nothing to do with it. Let them have it.

Sometimes, the best thing to do in a battle is to regroup at a more defensible position. Why defend an open field with many flanks, if you can take the defensible high ground?
Why fight commercialism?
Why confuse our most meaningful traditions?
Why defend a date that has no history upon it?
Why contend with a vicious worldly spirit?
Why receive the blows of critics at their rightful accusations of pagan origins?

The question is, Why are we fighting for a lie? If it were His birthday, and we were looking to keep it pure and worshipful, I can understand fighting with all our might. But its not. Why defend it?

"Therefore, from the birth of Christ to the death of Commodus are a total of 194 years, 1 month and 13 days. There are those who have calculated not only the year of our Lord's birth, but also the day. They say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, on the 25th of Pachon [May 20], others say he was born on the 25th day of Pharmuthi [April 19 or 20]." Clement of Alexandria, 195 AD.

Modern scholarship supports this early claim.
I suggest, we Christians, as a whole, move the celebration of Christ's birth to the Spring, where we may worship Him "in Spirit, and in Truth." For this season does *not* represent the Spirit of God, nor is there Truth in it. Let us re-establish a Spirit of love and thankfulness, having our homes filled with brotherhood and unity rather than trees and tinsle. Let our heads be crowned with remembrance rather than Santa hats. Let our own songs and hymns of praise ring, unclamored by the cacaphony of "jingle bells." Let us not lie to our children about the existence of Santa, but extol to them the truth of Christ our Savior.
For Christ was born in a desert, not during quaint New England snowfall. No true Christian tradition would be affected by such a move except for the time practiced. Due to its pagan origin, the Christmas festival was banned in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681 by the Puritans as an illegal observance.
In changing our day, we solve all problems have to contend with.

We no longer have to fight for attention amid the other holidays and their activities and practices.
We become pure in our worship, untainted by the leaven of syncretism.
We silence the critics who point out our error.
We establish truth and history as the basis for our practices.
We no longer have to clarify our position to others during the season.
We get the birth of Christ on our own terms, able to establish our own godly traditions, rather than man's.

Let them have their holiday.
Let us be the sort of Kings that tear down the high places and establish the true worship of God.
Let us establish the birth of Christ on our own terms, on truth, and with love.

Thanks for listening, and if you disagree, let us be kind.
I've never heard anyone else suggest this. I've only heard of not celebrating at all.

If you think it has merit, Share it!

Lastly, some parting quotes from Tertullian about Saturnalia, the precursor to Christmas.

"On your day of gladness, we Christians neither cover our doorposts with wreaths, nor intrude upon the day with lamps. At the call of public festivity, you consider it a proper thing to decorate your house like some new brothel . . . We are accused of lower sacrilege because we do not celebrate with you .. the holidays in a manner forbidden alike by modesty, decency and purity." Tertullian, 197 AD.

"The Saturnalia, New Year, Midwinter festivals, and Matronalia are frequented by us! Presents come and go! There are New Years gifts! Games join their noise! Banquets join the din! ... For even if they had known them, they would not have shared in the Lord's Day, or Pentecost with us. For they would fear, lest they should appear to be Christians. Yet, we are not apprehensive that we might appear pagans!" Tertullian, 197, AD.