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, October 23, 2017

I know how Lot felt

"[God] rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds)..." 2 Peter 2:7

Acknowledging that I am "righteous" only by the imparted righteousness of Jesus Christ, I want to say that I know how Lot felt.  My soul, too, is tormented day after day by the "sensual conduct of unprincipled men (and women)"!

In Long Beach over the past 20 years we have seen such a rapid playing out of the terrifying passage in Romans 1:18-32 which depicts the downward and ultimately lethal spiral God permits when people choose to push away and spurn their knowledge of God.

In this passage, note the causes and effects: what God revealed to people, what certain ones did and didn't do with that revelation and God's resultant verdict.  Note what was "exchanged" for what and the 3 things to which God "gave them over" as a result.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

"For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of an incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 

"Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 

"For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their acts.

"And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them."

Friday, October 6, 2017

ICAN Wins Nobel Peace Prize!

 Facebook post to share

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations to our friends and colleagues around the world who are part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). This morning, the Nobel Committee awarded ICAN the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons."

ICAN is made up of over 400 groups in 100 countries. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has been an ICAN member since the campaign began a decade ago. This year, we were proud to work with ICAN and many dedicated non-nuclear countries to bring into existence the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Nobel Peace Prize is a recognition of many decades of campaigning by activists around the world. We still have a lot of work to do to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world, and we hope that this prestigious honor will encourage you to work even harder alongside us for this goal. But today, let's take a moment to celebrate!

Please join us in congratulating ICAN on this immense honor by helping to spread the word on social media. Click on the Twitter or Facebook images below to share with your networks.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

AWAKEN THE DAWN: America's Tent of Meeting





Awaken the Dawn is a worship movement, a prayer movement, and a missions movement. We gather around the worth of Jesus. Our dream is to see a generation galvanized with the glory of Jesus and the presence of God.
The gospel was made to go viral. Now, more than ever, we believe it is time to present a millennial generation with the greater pleasure of knowing and encountering Jesus. A Third Great Awakening is not just an idea. It is not just talk. It is time to take our place in history.

All that we do is based on these strategic focuses:

  • Prayer
  • Worship
  • Music
  • Unity
  • The Gospel
  • Missions
We Confess and Believe the Historic Creeds of the Church and are committed to the great truths and abiding fundamentals of the Christian faith. This commitment is expressed through our alignment with the historic creeds, the two primary examples being the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. We also align ourselves with the Statement of Faith of the National Association of Evangelicals (USA).

Monday, September 25, 2017

Kissed MLK, didn’t trust turquoise, etc.

On her Facebook page, 4 years ago, I “liked” my niece Margot’s self-revelations, so she assigned me to write 12 of my own. I  got mixed up and thought she said 20.

  • Jessica Reynolds Renshaw Twelve things about me you may not know. Okay, here goes: I was born in the Year of the Monkey. I’m the daughter of an Earl(e). I grew up in Ohio. I grew up in Hiroshima. I grew up on a boat. In high school I was chosen to greet Martin Luther King with a lei and a kiss on the cheek. My P.E. classes were archery and hula. My favorite food is left-over spaghetti. I once had to recite A.A. Milne’s Now I am Six in public and I was mortified–because I was seven. My first crush was on a Japanese samurai (chambara) movie star. I have almost no visual memory. I never graduated from high school but I have three college degrees, almost four. My favorite book is still Winnie the Pooh. I was living in Hawaii when it became a state. For years I didn’t trust the color turquoise. I have DID (check the DSM-IV). My first book was published when I was 14. I had nothing to do with that. When I was 12, a calf I watched being born in South Africa was named after me. I still remember the Japanese word for “anthropologist.” I became a teenager on the Amazon River. I’ve held a hedgehog and a boa constrictor and been in the cage with a lion. I like all furry animals except tarantulas. And I can’t count.
    Our friend John Thiel responded: I agree, Jessica. Turquoise has always been a bit suspicious.
    To which I replied: Turns out I didn’t trust someone in my life whose favorite color was turquoise. . . Just hadn’t realized the connection. I remember a Chinese friend I had in college, male, who was afraid of 4-holed buttons! The Lord brought back to his mind an experience when he was four, the oldest of three children. (The other two were girls.) His father had been taken forcibly from his wife and children by the communists. One morning there was a knock on the door and his mother sent him, as the man of the house now, to open it. He found himself facing armed soldiers–facing their shirt fronts because he was so small–and his sense of terror and helplessness was somehow transferred to their buttons!