Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jesus vs. Santa: The Babe or the Blarney?

     One night-before-Christmas when I was two or three, I needed to tell Mummy and Daddy something after they'd tucked me in. I worked my way out of bed and was halfway down the stairs when I heard their voices. I peered through the railing and saw my parents standing before the fireplace. Murmuring together, one bent to pick up objects and hand them to the other, who was stuffing them into our stockings.
     They were doing Santa Claus' job and I knew at once they wouldn't be doing his job if he existed to do it for himself. Although they never knew I saw them, I never believed in Santa again. I felt betrayed. It was hard to believe Santa had betrayed me since he didn't exist. So I knew Mummy and Daddy were the frauds.
     I lost trust in my parents' credibility and I haven't liked Santa Claus since.
     I probably wouldn't have wanted to raise my children believing in Santa anyway, but when I became a believer in Jesus Christ at 19, my commitment to the only Source of "every good and perfect gift," who is a jealous God and will not share His glory with another, cinched my convictions. An invisible Being who was omniscient about motives and actions, omnipresent at least on Christmas Eve--an eternal Being who could reduce himself supernaturally to fit down a chimney, who answered prayers and performed miracles--was definitely competing with my God for His glory. Perpetuating the lie was idolatry.
     I knew the person of Santa Claus was based on St. Nicholas, who was good to the poor. It didn't make any difference. I didn't want my children finding out one invisible, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal Being we'd taught them to believe in was a fraud. Wouldn't they doubt the other One, the real One--the One who could supernaturally fit Himself into a manger, even into a woman's womb? Wouldn't they doubt us, the ones who had taught them myth and truth side by side? Wouldn't they throw the Baby out with the blarney?
     But Rick, my first husband, didn't see any problem with including Santa Claus in our Christmas. Santa had been a fun part of his growing up. He dismissed my concerns as groundless. Of course our kids would be able to distinguish between J. C. and S.C.!
     So on Christmas Eve, we'd send the kids to bed early "so Santa could come." Sometimes Rick got them really excited as they lay there trying hard to sleep, by telling them he could hear hooves scrabbling on the roof or distant whinnies. In the morning, a couple of the gifts would be labeled "from Santa." For my part, I downplayed the portly elf. I avoided Santa-decorated wrapping paper and figurines (except for the one where Santa, hat off, kneels before the manger). I still do.
     I don't know when I realized the kids were playing the game with us--as a game. Maybe it was the first time our daughter spoke into the lull after she and her brother had emptied their stockings: "Oh, I think Santa's coming back! He forgot something. Mom and Dad, I think you'd better leave the room."
     When we came back, our own stockings were bulging with all our favorite treats: nuts and sugar-free syrup for Rick, peanut M & Ms and marinated artichoke hearts for me. We gave Santa big hugs by proxy and the tradition was set.
     Time passed. Now our children were teenagers and the only child in the family was their cousin Andy. One Christmas morning when Andy's mother Linda (Rick's sister) went into the living room to turn up the furnace and turn on the tree lights, she discovered that the bichon frise had chewed through the wrappings of a package containing something edible and had ingested a good chunk of it (with no effects on him at all).
     It took all of us to convince a dubious Andy later that Prancer had eaten the left rear panel of his new chocolate Ferrari.
     Somehow, through it all, the kids grew up believing Jesus Christ is God and Santa Claus is a game. I underestimated them. They're not confused and their faith survived intact. And each year I add an angel or manger scene to the branches of the Christmas tree.

First posted Dec. 19, 2010 

Monday, December 4, 2017

In the beginning, HOW? By His Word


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters... Genesis 1:1-2

HOW did God create the heavens and the earth? Through His word: And God said-- (Genesis 1:3) The rest of chapter 1 details what God said and what happened as a result:

God said Let there be light and there was light.
God said Let there be an expanse--
God said Let the water be gathered--
God said Let there be lights in the heavens--
God said Let the waters teem with living creatures--
God said Let the earth bring forth living creatures--
God said Let Us make man in Our own image--

God spoke and it was done.
He spoke the universe into existence.
God breathed everything into being. 

The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.  Psalm 33:6 NLT

How do we know this? By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God. Hebrews 11:3 ESB

Since none of us were eyewitnesses at the beginning, theories of the origin of the universe must be accepted by faith--whether we believe the evidence indicates design or chance, creation or evolution. 
If God created everything through His word, what does the Bible mean by God's word? To know that, we have to jump from the first verse of the Old Testament to the first verse of the Gospel of John in the New Testament. 
(to be continued)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Let's review: Regarding the origin of everything...

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

First we looked at the statement as a whole: At a point in time (In the beginning), Someone (God) did something (made everything).  WHEN - WHO - WHAT 

WHEN  Then we looked at the phrase, "In the beginning," and saw that it meant the beginning of time (and space?) within or parallel to eternity. We discussed what "time" is.


Setting WHO aside for the moment, we looked at the next phrase:

WHAT: we saw that all creation, all that exists, is mute but sufficient testimony to the fact of a Creator and to His power.


Having looked at WHEN and WHAT happened "in the beginning," we began looking at HOW.

There has always been human speculation about how all things, material and immaterial--originated-- speculation from scientists to theologians to poets. We looked at this speculation from the Vedas, the Hindu Scriptures, which, though elegant, acknowledging WHO (a personal Creator: "he") and WHAT, ended up admitting ignorance as to HOW:

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?

...But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the Devas (minor gods) themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

Whence all creation had its origin,
he, whether he fashioned it or whether he did not,
he, who surveys it all from highest heaven,
he knows - or maybe even he does not know.
We looked at the verses in the Holy Bible which say we are NOT ignorant about WHO, that because of the WHAT, the testimony of creation itself, we are "without excuse" if we deny or turn away from the Creator to consider any other HOW.

Then we quoted the passages from the book of Job where GOD is asking the questions--and in doing so, making it clear that Job too knows WHO but is ignorant about HOW because he was not there "at the beginning"--and God was. There is no "maybe even he who surveys it from highest heaven...does not know" about it. HE KNOWS!

He knows WHO He is, WHAT He did and HOW He did it. He was there.

Next we will tackle the question of WHO in the beginning created the heavens and the earth.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What happened in the beginning - Job concedes Job 42


Then Job replied to God:
     I know that you can do anything and that no one can stop you.  You ask who it is who has so foolishly denied your providence. It is I. I was talking about things I knew nothing about and did not understand, things far too wonderful for me.
     You said, ‘Listen and I will speak! Let me put the questions to you! See if you can answer them!’
     But now I say ‘I had heard about you before, but now I have seen you, and I loathe myself and repent in dust and ashes.’”

Job 42 The Living Bible (TLB)


Game, SET, MATCH!  ALMIGHTY GOD 1, JOB 0



Monday, November 27, 2017

What happened in the beginning - Job 41

     Can you catch a leviathan with a hook and line? Or put a noose around his tongue?Can you tie him with a rope through the nose, or pierce his jaw with a spike? Will he beg you to desist or try to flatter you from your intentions? Will he agree to let you make him your slave for life?  Can you make a pet of him like a bird, or give him to your little girls to play with? Do fishing partners sell him to the fishmongers? Will his hide be hurt by darts, or his head with a harpoon?
     If you lay your hands upon him, you will long remember the battle that ensues and you will never try it again! No, it’s useless to try to capture him. It is frightening even to think about it! No one dares to stir him up, let alone try to conquer him. And if no one can stand before him, who can stand before me?  I owe no one anything. Everything under the heaven is mine.
     I should mention, too, the tremendous strength in his limbs and throughout his enormous frame.  Who can penetrate his hide, or who dares come within reach of his jaws? For his teeth are terrible.  His overlapping scales are his pride, making a tight seal so no air can get between them, and nothing can penetrate.
     When he sneezes, the sunlight sparkles like lightning across the vapor droplets. His eyes glow like sparks. Fire leaps from his mouth.  Smoke flows from his nostrils, like steam from a boiling pot that is fired by dry rushes.  Yes, his breath would kindle coals—flames leap from his mouth.
     The tremendous strength in his neck strikes terror wherever he goes. His flesh is hard and firm, not soft and fat.  His heart is hard as rock, just like a millstone. When he stands up, the strongest are afraid. Terror grips them.  No sword can stop him, nor spear nor dart nor pointed shaft.  Iron is nothing but straw to him, and brass is rotten wood. Arrows cannot make him flee. Sling stones are as ineffective as straw. Clubs do no good, and he laughs at the javelins hurled at him.  His belly is covered with scales as sharp as shards; they tear up the ground as he drags through the mud.
      He makes the water boil with his commotion. He churns the depths. He leaves a shining wake of froth behind him. One would think the sea was made of frost! There is nothing else so fearless anywhere on earth.  Of all the beasts, he is the proudest—monarch of all that he sees.”


Job 41, The Living Bible (TLB)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday of November)

We interrupt this firsthand account of the creation of the universe to wish each of you a very Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you in countries which do not set aside a special day for giving thanks to our Creator, here's a little information about the day and some psalms of praise and thanks to Him. Jessica and Jerry Renshaw

https://www.personalcreations.com/blog/psalms-of-thanksgiving

What happened in the beginning - Job 40


The Lord went on:
     "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty? Or will you yield? Do you—God’s critic—have the answers?”
Then Job replied to God:
     "I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I lay my hand upon my mouth in silence.  I have said too much already.”
     Then the Lord spoke to Job again from the whirlwind:
     Stand up like a man and brace yourself for battle. Let me ask you a question, and give me the answer.  Are you going to discredit my justice and condemn me so that you can say you are right?  Are you as strong as God, and can you shout as loudly as he?  All right then, put on your robes of state, your majesty and splendor.  Give vent to your anger. Let it overflow against the proud. Humiliate the haughty with a glance; tread down the wicked where they stand. Knock them into the dust, stone-faced in death.If you can do that, then I’ll agree with you that your own strength can save you.
     Take a look at the behemoth. I made him, too, just as I made you! He eats grass like an ox.  See his powerful loins and the muscles of his belly. His tail is as straight as a cedar. The sinews of his thighs are tightly knit together. His vertebrae lie straight as a tube of brass. His ribs are like iron bars. How ferocious he is among all of God’s creation, so let whoever hopes to master him bring a sharp sword! The mountains offer their best food to him—the other wild animals on which he preys.  He lies down under the lotus plants, hidden by the reeds,  covered by their shade among the willows there beside the stream. He is not disturbed by raging rivers, not even when the swelling Jordan rushes down upon him. 
      No one can catch him off guard or put a ring in his nose and lead him away.


Job 40, The Living Bible (TLB)


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

What happened in the beginning - Job 39

     Do you know how mountain goats give birth? Have you ever seen them giving birth to their young?Do you know how many months of pregnancy they have before they bow themselves to give birth to their young and carry their burden no longer? Their young grow up in the open field, then leave their parents and return to them no more.
     Who makes the wild donkeys wild? I have placed them in the wilderness and given them salt plains to live in. For they hate the noise of the city and want no drivers shouting at them! The mountain ranges are their pastureland; there they search for every blade of grass.
     Will the wild ox be your happy servant? Will he stay beside your feeding crib? Can you use a wild ox to plow with? Will he pull the harrow for you? Because he is so strong, will you trust him? Will you let him decide where to work?  Can you send him out to bring in the grain from the threshing floor?
     The ostrich flaps her wings grandly but has no true motherly love.  She lays her eggs on top of the earth, to warm them in the dust.  She forgets that someone may step on them and crush them, or the wild animals destroy them. She ignores her young as though they weren’t her own and is unconcerned though they die, for God has deprived her of wisdom.  But whenever she jumps up to run, she passes the swiftest horse with its rider.
     Have you given the horse strength or clothed his neck with a quivering mane? Have you made him able to leap forward like a locust? His majestic snorting is something to hear! He paws the earth and rejoices in his strength, and when he goes to war, he is unafraid and does not run away though the arrows rattle against him, or the flashing spear and javelin. Fiercely he paws the ground and rushes forward into battle when the trumpet blows. At the sound of the bugle he shouts, ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle when far away. He rejoices at the shouts of battle and the roar of the captain’s commands.
     Do you know how a hawk soars and spreads her wings to the south?  Is it at your command that the eagle rises high upon the cliffs to make her nest? She lives upon the cliffs, making her home in her mountain fortress. From there she spies her prey, from a very great distance. Her nestlings gulp down blood, for she goes wherever the slain are.”


Job 39 The Living Bible (TLB)