December 31, 2011

A Short Thought about 2012 and the End of the World

Well, here we are about to say goodbye to boring ol’ 2011 and welcome in awesome new 2012. Unfortunately, according to the Mayans 2012 is the end of the world. However, if the Mayans were so smart, then why is their civilization extinct? Exactly. So, I’m not too worried.

So, 2012 probably won’t be the end of the world—but it could be. Jesus could come back in 2012 just the same as He could in any other year. In fact, He could still come back before the end of 2011.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” –Matthew 24:42-43
No matter what, don’t wait until the end of the world to make sure that you’re right with your Maker. The Judge is standing at the door.

And for Christians, be awake and alert. Live this year like it might be the last one you spend on earth.

You should still plan as if the world might go on another 10,000 years, but keep reminding yourself that this present type of life that we are used to—a life without the physical presence of Jesus the King—this will one day be considered an unusual little blip on the timeline of history.

The Bible isn’t silent about what the end of the world should mean for us. Spend some of your last minutes of this year—or some of your first minutes of the new year—thinking about what God’s inspired Word tells us about the end of things.

“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” –Thessalonians 5:1-11
Have a happy New Year!

December 7, 2011

Don't Tell Your Kids Santa is Real

When I asked my parents if Santa was real, they flat out told me he was.  I’m sure that to them they were just dutifully protecting the fun secret of Christmas, but I wanted the honest truth.  Santa seemed fake and I wanted the real answer.  Instead I got a stone cold lie. 

Now, the next time around my parents ‘fessed up and told me the truth and the Santa myth didn’t devastate my future.  Nonetheless, the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.  Kids should be able to trust their parents.  My parents are honest people but this thing with Santa seemed jarringly inconsistent with that.      

I want to offer a suggestion to new and future parents.  For you parents who have already fooled your kids about Santa, my purpose isn’t to make you feel bad or to condemn you as bad parents.  I’m also not trying to make the case that Santa is Satan—even though their names have the same letters, they both wear red suits and distract people from baby Jesus on His birthday...  No, my only purpose is to give this challenge to new or future parents: Don’t tell your kids that Santa is real.

Let me give you three reasons:

Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa.

You have to admit that Santa distracts kids from the real meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about Jesus; that’s why we call it Christmas and not Santamas. Regardless of when Jesus was actually born, Christmas is when we celebrate the Messiah coming into the world. God became man so that Jesus, the God-man, could live a perfect life on our behalf and die the death we deserved to die. Salvation depends on what we celebrate on Christmas. 

Yet, even in Christian homes this can get swallowed up. Secular Christmas has completely lost the real meaning of the holiday, but even in Christian homes it’s an uphill battle. We have four young kids. We do a lot to teach them about Jesus, and they know that Santa is pretend, but it is still hard enough to keep their eyes on the right things. There are still presents under the tree. There are still commercials, and Christmas specials, and school Christmas parties, and decorations, and Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Jesus. It’s hard enough to keep the spotlight on Jesus even without making Santa the star of the show.

Kids should be able to trust their parents.

Kids trust their parents. Parents should do everything they can to honor that trust. Kidding around is one thing, but intentionally fooling your kids for years is another thing.  Your kids are going to need your guidance to get them through this world. Don’t do anything that could damage that trust. 

As parents, you will need to tell your kids many things that they will find hard to believe. You will need to tell them that many of their desires are dangers and mirages. They need to believe you. Most important, you need to teach your kids about the truth of God. But if they grow up being assured that both Santa and Jesus are real, what are they going to think one day when both of them seem far-fetched? If Santa was just a pleasant myth, why is Jesus any different?

Your kids will still love Christmas.

I have four kids who don’t think that Santa is real. Guess what? They still love Christmas. They love it a lot! I have pictures and video to prove it. Maybe they love it more, since it is more impressive to think about God coming down to earth to give salvation than for a fat guy to come down a chimney—if we had one—to give plastic.

The “magic” isn’t gone. We haven’t killed their imaginations. We still put up decorations. We still have a tree. They still get gifts. And speaking of the gifts, this is another advantage: They know that the gifts are from people who love them, not an anonymous fat stranger.

Why give Santa credit for the gifts you give your kids?  I have a very clear childhood memory of one Christmas gift I opened under the tree. It was some sort of puzzle that looked like a dog. The gift itself wasn’t my favorite thing, but what I remember is that while all the other gifts said they were from “Santa” this one—for whatever reason—said it was from “Dad.” My Dad gave me this gift! Sure, now I know that all of the gifts were from my parents, but I didn’t know that then. The gifts from Santa were nice, but the gift from my Dad was special.

Let Jesus be the number one hero of Christmas. Let Mom and Dad be next. Santa can stay out in the cold. 

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