Some of my Favorite Christmas Characters: Mary and Nicholas

Fun KillerI wrote this post last year, but it’s timeless message will still be true in a hundred years (if the Lord tarries)….

I was reading a post by someone on Christmas and whether Jesus’ followers should celebrate it and saw a comment asking if they “[had] a bee in [their] bonnet.” Well, that is sort of true, but mostly because there are some of Jesus’ followers who have very large “bees” in their bonnets!

Last month I passed on something about Santa Claus on facebook and a lady was offended at me for not equating him with the great accuser, Satan. To my knowledge she’s not visited my page since then.

As a newly wed participating in a missions conference, a church asked us for our favorite Bible characters. When it was my turn, I shared how much I respect and admire Mary. The stillness that filled the room could almost be felt.

Who are these people who get under people’s skins so badly?

English: Council of Nicea

Council of Nicea

Santa Claus wasn’t always just a popular replacement for Jesus as the centerpiece of the holiday. He was a real man that we will get to know in Heaven. He lived in Turkey and Greece 1700 years ago and loved Jesus very much. Although he is best known for his secret generosity, he was also important in making sure the western church didn’t fall for lies about the true nature of Jesus as both God and Man.

I did find one article that isn’t from a saint-worshiping tradition; they aren’t so sure that Nicholas was really at the Council of Nicea. This was where church leaders hammered out what the Bible actually says about who Jesus is. Their records don’t say anything about Nicholas being there, but later people said he was not only there, but lost his temper and slapped the guy who claimed Jesus wasn’t really God (causing Nicholas to lose his church position).

English: Byzantine fresco representing the fir...Whether Nicholas was there or not, we know there was a real battle for the hearts and minds of believers then. Today, the same battle is still raging; many of us struggle with the truth of Genesis and the nature of Jesus as Creator and Witness.

Anyway, my kids know Nicholas doesn’t have anything to do putting the presents under the tree, and probably never saw a reindeer. But, we like reading his story and remembering how following Jesus means helping others in every way, from secret presents to taking uncomfortable stands for truth.

c. 1437-1446People don’t usually have quite as big a problem with Mary, but she has her share as well. I agree there are people who go far beyond the Bible and turn her into a kind of goddess. The Bible tells us she was nothing of the sort as she herself testifies:

 Then Mary said,

“I praise the Lord with all my heart.
     I am very happy because God is my Savior.
 I am not important,
    but he has shown his care for me, his lowly servant.
From now until the end of time,
    people will remember how much God blessed me. Luke 1:46-48 Easy-to-read Version

Mary needed her Kinsman Redeemer just as much as you and I do, but she set a wonderful example to follow. She was enough of a scientist to know that God wasn’t going to just give her a baby son without something extra happening. When the angel told her the plan, Mary was willing to cooperate even with the miraculous. Her words of acceptance and submission are a guide to all of us when we are given extraordinary tasks:

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Luke 1:38

If we throw away everything and everyone that has been used in a corrupted manner, we won’t have anything left. From the rainbow to God Himself someone has used them for selfish, sinful purposes. As for me, I’m going to keep the memories of some of Jesus’ fellow servants dear in my heart and look forward to the day Mary, Nicholas and I stand before the throne and worship the Lamb together!

For lots more on the controversies of Christmas, check out:

Answers in Genesis: Feedback: Christians Celebrating Christmas at Christmas Town

Biblical Archaeology: Why Dec 25th?

PS My kids and I have a set of books on Nicholas, Valentine, and Patrick from the Voice of the Martyrs. They are beautifully done and treat these men as honorable heroes. I highly recommend them.

You can find some interesting legends and lots of activities about Nicholas at the St. Nicholas Center: For Kids section. We’ll probably be checking it out tomorrow afternoon!

Marsh Blooms

Are Your Kids Ready for Science Class This Year?

Bake a Cake for Darwin 2012

Bake a Cake for Darwin 2012 (Photo credit: Beaty Biodiversity Museum)

In this post I’m going to talk straight to all of us parents out there, although you kids are welcome to listen in.

Yesterday, I ran into a page that didn’t surprise me but rather made me sad and excited at the same time.  It so clearly shows what is going on in a typical science classroom that I thought I would take today’s post to forewarn and forearm all you parents who will be sending their kids out the door to school in a month or so.Today’s text to check out is on Miss Barbara’s Montessori teacher guide to “The Time Line of Life.”

It’s a long page, but just reading the opening paragraphs on Setup and Presentation will give you a feel for what your child is going to be exposed to.  I found the product page for the timeline she uses, but it didn’t have a good picture of the details they cover. I did find that this same teacher is very pleased with the webpage from Berkeley, so if you want to see what she’s showing her kids you can follow the link there.

English: Sharpened version of :File:Geological...

Geological time spiral

The first thing that caught my eye on Miss Barbara’s page was her complete comfort with presenting a lesson that she is well aware is full of errors.  It doesn’t seem to bother her conscience at all that she is leading the children to wonder and be amazed at something that she knows isn’t true.

Personally, I never present an idea to children as fact if I have any doubts about it.  My kids know the story of St. Nicolas and watch Christmas specials with flying reindeer, but they’ve never believed that you could go visit them if you travelled far enough north.  Interestingly, this is the same tack that many people in Montessori also take on Santa Claus.  Yet, they have no problem presenting the Evolutionary story of spontaneous generation as truth.

I’m not going to go through her whole long page, but it doesn’t take long to get the idea of what she is expecting the children to believe:

  • Animals knew what they needed to develop and had the ability to change themselves to meet that need
  • Extinct animals show how needs change and leave some behind
  • Living things spontaneously become larger and more complicated given enough time
  • Animals buried at different levels in the fossil record must have lived at very different times

EvolutionThe first point is the most mind-blowing for me. I noticed the same thing happening with the story of plant development last week. Living things knew what they needed and how to meet that need and changed themselves to accomplish their pre-planned goal. That is one tall tale! See if it works for your little Superhero wannabe. You just will yourself to develop some new desirable ability and presto you can do it. NOT!

Points one and two cannot both be true.  If some animals can will themselves to change, why can’t the rest (considering they believe all animals have a single ancestor)?  As we look around the world we can easily discover which of these two ideas matches the reality we see.  This morning on facebook I shared a picture that said, “beware the half truth, you may have gotten hold of the wrong half.”  It is rare for any falsehood to be presented in a completely invented framework, it would be too obvious.

Giant prehistoric shark jawNumber three is also quickly falsifiable. I’ve discussed this briefly in posts on all kinds of animals and in more detail about human beings. There is an organization called Greater Ancestors who’s whole focus is on this subject. They’ve collected enough fossils, photos and stories just on this topic to be planning to open a museum shortly. People and animals can be shown over and over again to be Devolving into smaller, less capable forms.

As for point number 4, you can have a look at what’s really going on by beginning with my post on the Geologic Column and checking out the links to even more evidence.

UHA PterygotusOne last area stood out to me from Miss Barbara’s page: the power of really cool animals to capture our imaginations. Remember God’s technique for reminding Job of His power and authority? The Creator pointed to natural processes and lots of animals. I remember reading Job’s response for the first time as an adult and being stunned at his complete humility and acceptance of God’s Lordship from this line of reasoning alone. Now I understand better the potency acknowledging the Creator has.

We can just as easily, and with more authority, show how all the amazing creatures of the past and present show the mind and majesty of God to our children.  Let us not be fearful or naive, but wise and proactive as God-fearing parents of tomorrow’s Christian leaders!

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.  Matthew 10:16

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.  Luke 21:15 

Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.  I Corinthians 14:20 

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. II Corinthians 11:3 

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;  Philippians 2:15 

For more ways to help your kids check out the resources being offered by Creation Today