Archive for the ‘Santa’ Category


A few weeks ago I was talking to someone who had a lot of questions about Christianity and he asked me: “If God knew we would fall, why did He create us in the first place? It was a great question to which my answer was: “because He wanted us to love Him back”. See? I could command my kids to greet me upon entering the door with a big smile and warm and heartfelt “daddy is home!” and threaten them that if they don’t, I will discipline them. However, the beauty and ‘pricelessness’ (yes, new word) of this act of expression of love from them is that I don’t have to ask them; they do it every time I come home –from their own free will and love for me. That’s how a regular human father would do it; love not coerced but freely offered. How much more our heavenly father who is truly sovereign, powerful and loving?

However, true love cannot happen if a choice to obey or disobey is not available and equally doable.
Time and time again we read of God calling people to turn to him, to respond to his call, to humble themselves, to repent and to put their faith in Him, because that is the very only way to be saved; no one person can earn their salvation through works. It is only through faith by His grace.
Time and time again we read of some who humbly respond to that call from God;
Time and time again we read of others who choose not to respond to God’s call.
Time and time again we read of God desiring everyone to be saved, but never forcing anyone into that salvation he so heartily desires, but so sovereignly respects.

We all have disobeyed, do disobey, and will disobey God’s protective rules and laws (Rom 3:23). Still, He chose , before the foundation of this world (Ephesians 1:4), to graciously forgive us by taking upon himself the penalty of our disobedience (Isaiah 53) so that we can, in return, out of thanksgiving, chose to obey Him –to freely and willingly love Him. This act of taking upon himself the penalty of our sin started in a sense, when Jesus was born some two thousand years in the Middle East. That is what Christmas is all about; love taking a human body to consummate forgiveness for us, so that we can love back. (John 3:1-17)

So, how can I make this Christmas more tangibly a celebration of Jesus birth?

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to my kids, but to forgive them when they disobey my rules, or take their punishment on their behalf, not to yell at them or ‘unload my justice’ when they act out.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to my wife but to forgive her when she doesn’t meet my unrealistic expectations, responds in a way I don’t like or doesn’t do things the way I want (not that it ever happens because my wife is perfect but, just for the sake of argument)

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to strangers as a ‘good deed’ but to forgive strangers who cut me off while driving.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give “Merry Christmas” to people at the grocery store but to forgive those who bring 50 items to the express lane cashier or take my parking space.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give one-time shoeboxes to the orphans but to forgive their troubling and dangerous past and help them to have a chance to have a family.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give beautiful words of appreciation to the church leaders but to forgive when they don’t do things the way I think they should be done.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give Christmas cards to friends but to forgive their shortcomings by not making them the doormat in which I step upon to make my righteousness validated.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give a mouthful of my opinions to those who disagree with my beliefs but to forgive and give grace as I have been given grace.

– This Christmas I am proposing not to just give gifts to myself but to forgive my mistakes, sins and failures in the past since God already forgave me.

I may not always be able to take upon myself the due penalty of other’s mistakes as Jesus did –which is the ultimate forgiveness. Nevertheless, I wonder if just by forgiving little and big offenses, right there and then, if I may be able to show to others in a practical way, what Christmas is all about: free will to love -which we may agree, is a synonym of free will to chose to forgive. As someone said: “We are never more like God than when we forgive“. This Christmas, I wont just give, I will forgive.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:35

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

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Upon reading and watching countless blogs, debates and testimonies, I am of the conviction that Christianity has lost effect in our society, among other reasons, due to a loss of credibility. We Christians sometimes fight so adamantly for the right to say “Merry Christmas” or display a nativity set or set up a Christmas tree in the public square or defending a specific point of view that, in the fight, we lose sight of what really matters and destroy with our actions the very message we claim to defend.

The true history of Christmas
Let’s start with being intellectually, historically and Biblically honest. Christmas –at least the way we broadly observe it today, is not Biblical. (please don’t stop reading, there is a good end to this). Yes, it is true. Christmas the way we know it is not commanded. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to celebrate Jesus’ birthday or to have a nativity set or to have a tree full of ornaments or to give gifts on December 25th. God never told us to fight for Christmas to defend and preserve the right for Christmas traditions. In fact, it is a well documented true, both Biblically and historically, that all of these activities of Christmas are based on pagan (non-Christian) traditions and predate Christianity. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, a variety of cultures were erecting trees and giving gifts in honor of their own gods and idols. In fact, most likely Jesus wasn’t even born in December. Jesus’ birth most likely happened towards the end of September. So, just to be clear, when we fight for all of these things, we need to understand, we are not fighting God’s fight but our own. Just to make it worse, some historians argue that the Puritans and some of the first Christians in our land contended that Christians should not even be involved in these activities as it is clear that The Bible condemns and forbids idolatry and pagan-like rituals. Acknowledging these facts may be a good start to gaining credibility in presenting our case for Christ.

My reason for this season
But even if you observe some of these traditions, like I do, whether you like having a tree or a nativity set of doing Santa, please keep this in mind: while it is true that this country was founded in Judeo-Christian principles and we have the right to say “Merry CHRISTmas!”, not many people -that I know of, have come to the saving knowledge of salvation through Christ because we responded to their “Happy holidays” greeting with our very emphatic “Merry CHRISTmas!”

How many people do you know who got saved by a forced nativity set in a public square? Is it possible that, by being less dogmatic about what we want about Christmas (which we concluded is not God’s idea anyway), and more ‘respectful and cordial to their desires and objections, that we may be able to engage in a friendly conversation that potentially can lead us to share why we believe what we believe? –not about a tree but about the cross?

Is it possible that switching from ‘defending our rights for Christmas’ to ‘taking advantage of opportunities to introduce our savior”, may be more in line with what God wants from us during this and all seasons? (“…go therefore and make disciples…”)

I could very well be wrong, but I wonder, since we want so much to make Jesus happy on His Birthday, if we would do better by not fighting our fights but His, by taking every single opportunity we have to tell others -not about Christmas stuff, but about Christ –this and all seasons.

When the goal of telling the truth about Christ is clouded by our dogmatic ‘Christmas truths’, we may, just may be missing the whole point of the opportunity this season brings.


This week marks the first year anniversary of Thoughts With Accent.  As I shared  on the very first entry, it started at the suggestion of my wife to better share thoughts (with accent  🙂 ), as opposed to Notes on Facebook.

Since then, I have written about personal topics such the typical “about me“, my cologne , my travels , lost friendships, and even famous people I’ve met. Holidays, politics and some music have also been topics of discussion.

I have likewise enjoyed considering serious issues in Christian life like judgingconflict devotional life, and “coincidences” from the Bible.

 

After 1 year, 90 posts and 15,000 viewers, these were the most viewed, linked, re-tweeted and/or recommended by readers:

1st-year’s top 5 most  viewed, linked, re-tweeted and/or recommended blog entries:

5. Beaten by an Atheist; healed by a Muse”; what I have come to conclude 

4. Judging and de-friending 

3. More than just “wash each other’s feet” 

2. My name is Luis, and I am a Pharisee. I’ve been clean for 48 hrs 

1. Born Identity

 

 

Happy 4th of July!!


Today I read an article from Mark Driscoll via Jonathan Howes which reminded me of a situation I faced a few days ago.  A red flag went up in my mind when my kids heard someone saying that you need to ‘believe’ in Santa. It alerted me because just a few days earlier, I had been studying the Bible with them.  We discussed the concept of ‘believe in Jesus through faith’.

Could they possible confuse, misunderstand, or combine both of those –God and Santa- into one ‘believe’ lump? Aren’t they smart enough to know the difference? No kid thinks Peter Pan is an Angel…or do they?

This re-awakened in me a big question I have had for a while.  If I want to be a really good parent, the most important thing I can do and should do is follow God’s instructions and warnings such as:

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”

And..

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

However, how true, REALLY true, is what I’ve heard –that the belief in Santa can confuse and ultimately drive a kid away from faith in God? Is there any statistical data to support this claim? Has that really happened?

I did some research, read studies and asked people in a variety of forums and based on their responses and comments, this is what I discovered:

–       There are many people in both groups –those who grew up in Christian homes and those in non-Christian homes, who incorporate Santa into their Christmas. As they grew, they turned out to be healthy Christians; their Santa traditions didn’t affect their faith in God.

–       There are many people in both groups –those who grew up in Christian homes and those in non-Christian homes, who did NOT do Santa. As they grew, they turned out to be healthy Christians who said they enjoyed Christmas without Santa; their LACK of Santa traditions didn’t affect their faith in God.

–       There are many people in both groups –those who grew up in Christian homes and those in non-Christian homes, who did Santa. As they grew, they turned AWAY from Christianity as Santa created doubts and confusion about what to believe and the trustworthiness of their parents. Their Santa traditions DID affect their faith in God.

–       Some who were raised WITHOUT Santa, grew up to be parents who DO Santa because they feel they ‘missed the fantasy’.

–       Some of the most famous atheist like Christopher Hitchens, have argued that Santa actually is ‘good’ as it helps prepare kids for the ‘Christian disillusion’.

Based on that, I conclude for me and my family:

– If Jesus and The Bible are being taught throughout the rest of the year, no confusion will arise. The problem comes when everyone seems to put more ‘stock’ (no pun intended) into believing in Santa this one month, than believing in God the rest of the year.

– It may be ok and even beneficial to the kids’ mental development to have some ‘fantasy. We will let them play the “Santa game”, imagine, pretend and go along with it. But we are clear about what is real and what is not. “Santa is as pretend as Mickey Mouse; but we can still play and have fun”. They can play that Santa gives them gifts and comes down our un-existent chimney and eats cookies. However, they will know and have it explained to them that real people give them gifts -to whom they are to be thankful, that gifts from parents and God, are NOT depending on performance, that we are to selflessly give like Jesus or the old St Nicholas character and so on…

– We will find a way to keep our kids from spoiling the dream for those kids who believe in Santa. I don’t want to receive the phone call from the crying kids’ parents.

We’ll see how it goes…..