Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do We Confuse God with Santa Claus?

Do We Confuse God with Santa Claus?
Do we ever confuse God with Santa Claus?  What a foolish question.  Of course we know the difference between God and Santa Claus.  I can’t imagine any sane person who would purposely confuse God with Santa, but consider these points:

1. Both dwell in distant places uninhabited by humans.

2.  Jesus has promised to return for His own; Santa will return to your town this Christmas.

3. They both see us when we are sleeping or awake.

4. Both have a list, and show a clear concern with “goodness” and “badness.”

But note the MAJOR differences between God and Santa:

Santa has a “naughty and nice” list, and he only brings toys to “good little girls and boys.” You had better be good because Santa is coming to town with a list that he’s checked twice.  No toys for you if your name is on the wrong list.  This is reinforcing legalism.

Jesus likewise has a list.  His list has the name of every believer in His Book of Life. This list is not a reward based on good behavior but a list that based on His grace. There is nothing we can do to earn His favor or lose it (Eph 2:8-9). This is teaching grace. 

If you make Santa’s “nice list,” he’ll give you anything you ask.  You’ve earned it. By contrast, Jesus gives us what we need, not necessarily what we want. 

Santa serves us by giving us gifts. By contrast, our ultimate purpose in life is to serve Jesus out of deep gratitude.

Santa is a myth.. Jesus is real. 

Okay, we hit the basics.  But how do they affect our behavior?

I have met and read about many believers who conclude that God doesn’t love them or doesn’t exist because they didn’t receive their desired request.  It is my sincere belief that these people are simply confusing the myth of Santa with the reality of Jesus. 

How can we help our children understand the difference between Santa and God? 

First, make certain that you and your children understand the difference between God and Santa (see my points above).

Then explain to your children why you believe the Bible is true.  This will help to reinforce the truth of the Christmas story in your life as well.  As a teacher, I realized that I never really understood a lesson until I was able to explain it to others. 

Second, tell your children the story of the real Saint Nicolas (Santa Claus), the Bishop of Myra (in Asia Minor) during the 4th century (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/my-kind-of-santa/). Saint Nicholas wanted to honor the Christ child by giving gifts to those in need.  The historical truth provides a better story than the myth about some “jolly fat guy” who makes lists and brings gifts to those on his “good list.” 

Finally, make certain you and your family understand God’s grace by explaining WHY Jesus was born. It’s a great story (Luke 2). 

During this Christmas season, you and your family will hear countless songs about Santa making a list of who is naughty and nice, etc.  May I offer a suggestion?  Every time you hear a song like that, thank God that He doesn’t evaluate our goodness by our deeds.  Thank Him for seeing us only through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.  

Monday, September 22, 2014

How Can We Know Gods Truth? (CMC #12)



II Timothy 2:15 commands us to study God’s Word so we will be able to understand it as God intended.  But the following verse (2:16) warns us to avoid vain and profane babblings because they will eat at our soul like a canker sore, which attacks healthy skin and is very difficult to eliminate.  Profane and vain babblings are definitely something to avoid, and I can’t think of anything more vain and profane than the majority of today’s entertainment choices.
Isn’t it interesting that Paul warned Timothy to abstain from profane and vain babblings right after directing him to study the Word of God.  I believe God was warning Timothy -- and us -- that profane and vain babblings will inevitably undermine the Truth of God’s Word.  Frankly, our entertainment choices can make or break us.  A good way to avoid making the wrong entertainment choice is to take the Christian Music Challenge. 
For music suggestions and information about the Challenge, check out www.TheChristianMusicChallenge.com.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Do You Chase After God? (CMC #10)



The Bible tells us that King David was a man after God’s own heart. What does that mean?  David was known for seeking the heart of God in the midst of adversity. He pursued an intimate relationship with God.   David wasn’t perfect, but when he failed miserably (as he did with Bathsheba), he always turned to God because he found forgiveness, love, and acceptance.
You can be a man or woman after God’s heart just like David.  Remember, there was nothing “special” about David.  He was human just like us. If you would like to be known as a man or woman after God’s own heart, then follow David’s example.  Keep your focus on God through godly songs; allow your heart to remain in tune with His heart.  When you blow it, turn to God just as David did.  Christian music can help you maintain a focus on life from a biblical perspective.
For music suggestions and more information, check out: www.TheChristianMusicChallenge.com.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Does It Matter If You Don't Feel Saved? ? (AA #8)



I remember raising my hand to become a Christian when I was eight years old.
However, Satan convinced me that I wasn’t saved because I didn’t “feel” saved.  And because I didn’t feel saved, I concluded that Christianity didn’t work for me.   As a teen I decided that if I was going to Hell, I would live like hell.  And for ten years I did. 
One night when I came to the end of my hopeless search for happiness, I read Romans 10:9.  “...if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” 
I can do THAT.  I did, I was, and I am.  I still didn’t have a feeling of being saved, but I didn’t need it. Instead, I decided to rest on God’s promise. 
How about you?  Has Satan been lying to you?  Do you want to know you are saved? Read Romans 10:9 and believe it.
To help you grow in your faith, can I suggest checking out our Christian Music Challenge?
For music suggestions and more information, check out www.TheChristianMusicChallenge.com.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

I Thought I Was Going To Die! (AA #7)



Back in my college days, I tried to body surf The Wedge in Newport Beach when the waves were nearly 20 feet tall.  I figured that if I surfed 3 to 5 foot waves - which are still over my head – the Wedge had the same shape, so I could surf these waves, too. 

When I saw the first wave get bigger and bigger and bigger until it looked like a liquid two-story building that would squash me like a bug, I dived under it.  I struggled against the undertow for about 30 minutes before I managed to reach the shore.  Surfing the Wedge looked much easier when I was sitting on the beach.

This experience reminds me of James 4:8, which says, “Come near to God, and he will come near to you.”

In the same way I had to draw near to the waves in order to give them their proper respect, we are commanded to approach God so that we can give Him the proper respect.  Christian music can help. 

For music suggestions and more information, check out www.TheChristianMusicChallenge.com.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

You Need to Watch This Movie with Your Family

When the Game Stands Tall

by Al Menconi, for AlMenconi.com

I just watched the most inspiring movie, When the Game Stands Tall, that I have seen in a long time.  It’s the true story of De La Salle, a Catholic high school in Northern California that won 151 games in a row.  But the story, rather than focusing on the winning streak, concentrates on the response of the team to its first loss in more than 12 years. 

After reading all the mediocre reviews from the major reviewers before I entered the theater this morning, I suspected that the film must be an incredible failure or contain a spiritual and/or inspirational message that secular reviewers could not tolerate.  It was clearly the latter.  The film supplies a wonderful inspirational message. 

The lessons from Scripture pepper this story in a way that isn’t contrived or corny.  Christianity and the Bible are treated with a respect that I haven’t seen in a secular film in years.  The lesson of the movie is clear: the streak itself is secondary.  Instead, the players are asked, How will you handle adversity after you graduate?  How will you be serving the community after football? 

My wife saw the movie trailer on TV and decided to join me this morning – a pleasant surprise.  I was eager to hear her response because I know how much she normally dislikes watching sports and especially sports movies.  As the movie was wrapping up, I saw her wiping her eyes and asked if she was crying.  Her response floored me: “I’ve been crying throughout the whole movie. I loved it.” I didn’t admit that I was in tears during the whole movie as well. 

We were sitting next to a group of about 30 teenage boys who play on the local school football team.   They were riveted to the story and understood the message. I’m certain that their coach was pleased that his boys learned, “It’s not about you; it’s about the team.” 

Bottom line – if my wife will sit through a sports movie and get caught up in the emotion of the message, it is indeed a special film.  It grabbed my attention from the opening scene. I couldn’t believe that the action on the field was rehearsed, for it appeared to be real game action.  The acting was first-rate, the story true and powerful, the message biblical: love your neighbor; think of others as more important than yourself. 


I strongly urge you and your whole family to see the movie this week – and don’t wait for the DVD.