Thursday, December 19, 2013

What To Do With Santa Claus

Several months ago, my daughter–in-law, Leslie, asked me this question:

“What do I do with Santa Claus?”

I have known for a while that my heart and my head were not in agreement over the Santa Claus issue. I want to save my childhood tradition and yet knowing it interfered with the true meaning of Christmas. So… I prayed that God would show me the way to go. 

I started out by asking other Christians what they thought about Santa Claus. As you can imagine, I got a variety of answers. However, the one by which the Holy Spirit used to touch my heart the most came from a close friend. She told me about believing in Santa as a child and all the joy it had held for her. When she was seven, her parents told her the truth about who Santa really was. She was devastated. The revelation caused such a lack of trust towards her parents that she began rethinking everything her parents had ever told her. She even questioned the truths about Jesus. Was He a fake too?

For me, to keep endorsing Santa in my traditional way would be continuing to promote the same lie and distracting from the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Christ. The Santa of today has developed into a giving machine for our materialistic desires. Santa can give us anything we desire if we are good. In holding on to this tradition, aren't I leading others to believe that earthly figures can produce the same supernatural results as God Himself, if they only believe. Is that really what I want to portray in the end?

Why should I promote the lie when I can promote the real thing? Jesus IS the only true giver of everlasting love, peace and joy. Jesus came to give us life and to bless us abundantly. When we receive Him into our hearts, we have an eternal relationship without any more shame, guilt, and condemnation ever again. His blessings of healing, protection and provision are not dependent on whether we are naughty or nice. Jesus is the true miracle worker.

Honestly, I feel like Santa has to die in my heart again like he did long ago. The feeling of not wanting to let go tells me Santa is a stronghold in my life that needs to come down. 

I desire Christmas to be about the supernatural birth of my Savior not the world’s materialistic Santa. I want to tell the world that God loved mankind so much that he initiated the process to save all from the power of sin through His son Jesus. 

I am letting go of the false now. Truth and its lasting joy is flooding my soul with peace and fulfillment. Thank you Jesus for Your patience in the process.

Can I inspire that joyous expectation  without Santa Claus? Sure I can. It may be a challenge. However, if I seek God’s ways, His creativity will inspire the way.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Waiting For Christmas

Sally Matheny is my guest blogger this week. She has a refreshing look at the way we look at Christmas activities.

Christmas is a fun time of year, especially for children. There is an abundance of merryactivities: parades, special programs, baking and decorating. Adults walking children down toy aisles and making wish lists. Pointing to different toys they ask, “What about this? Do you like this?”

As far back as I can remember, my mother read stories to us each night, in the weeks leading up to Christmas. The Christmas devotionals came from a green hardcover Guideposts book. My sister and I loved those stories and they always seemed to draw our focus away from the material things and towards Christ.

But I must admit Christmas morning was a completely different matter. The shiny bows and mysteriously shaped packages under the tree screamed for my attention and we were not allowed to open them right away. The gifts had to wait until Mama and Dad got up which seemed to take forever.  Then, we could sit in front of the tree but not touch anything until Daddy got his coffee—, which seemed to take forever.

Next, we had to wait for Mama to put the sausage balls and cinnamon Danish rolls in the oven—, which seemed to take forever.

Finally, it was time for Mama to read the story of Christ’s birth from Luke 2. Many times my mind wandered away from the manger and over to the presents. Why could my excitement about the gifts not make those shepherds walk a little faster?  Let the wise men hurry and give their three gifts because I had already scanned my name more than that on tags under the tree.  What? Time to pray? Alright! That meant presents were next!

Another tradition we had is that it wasn’t a free-for-all. We had to take turns opening gifts starting with the youngest, which was cool since that was I. I liked seeing what everyone else got, especially my sister, since she might share her toys with me. However, I always readied the next gift in my lap while everyone else opened their presents.

Shameful and sad, isn’t it? Alas, it was the mindset of a self-centered five year old. God bless my parents for hanging in there. I’m thankful they didn’t throw their hands up in discouragement and let us delve into a selfish frenzy.

As much as they enjoyed watching their children’s delight on Christmas morning, they had a deeper conviction. They knew something that I did not know until I was older—that the fulfillment in gifts is fleeting. Most of the toys would be discarded within a few years, some within a few months. Not one toy would last forever and even if it did, they knew the happiness it once brought would not. 

The greatest gift they gave us was their consistent pointing to Jesus Christ.  All they could do was point the way. We had to make the choice.  

The angels told the shepherds the good news. However, the shepherds made the decision to go find the Messiah. The star pointed the way for the magi, but they had to choose to follow it.

Praise God, as I matured, my gaze gradually shifted from the gifts to the manger. God drew me to Him. He used my parents and others to point me in the right direction.

It is delightful giving gifts at Christmas, especially to children. In the midst of all the merriment, let's continue turning our focus on the best Gift.

My joy comes from God’s perfect gift, Jesus Christ.  It thrills my soul beyond measure to know Him.

How long will His love fulfill my life?


What about you? How do you point the way to Christ during the Christmas season?

Sally Matheny’s mission in life is to encourage others through her written and spoken words.

Her writing is published by Focus on the Family; Keys for Kids; and Practical Homeschooling. Her work is also found on-line at Christian Devotions; DevoKids, and other publications.

She serves on the leadership team for the Write2Ignite Writers’ Conference, held at North Greenville University and is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and of the American Christian Writers Association.

Visit her blog at You can also connect with her via facebook and Twitter: Sally_Matheny.

Happily married for twenty-four years to her pastor-husband, they have three children and have been homeschooling for fourteen years.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Little Christmas In Your Time Of Need

My daughter and I left David and Leslie’s home Sunday with our Kentucky Thanksgiving memories to comfort us. Our long drive home started with the rustic two-lane highway through small towns and rural farm areas. Being the wintertime, the countryside looks dull and lifeless. The rolling pastureland was light brown with highlights of darker fencing. The oaks and maples were totally bare of their former glory. You would not know there was life around except for the homes that dotted the hillside with their bellowing chimney smoke and twinkling Christmas lights. I felt a sense of calmness and peace come over me.

Wintertime can be a joyful dormant time of reflection. As we consider the revelations from the past year’s trials, losses, and victories, we can shoot our roots down deeper into His soil of wisdom and love. It can also be a time of fun. Spending time with family and friends before a glowing fireplace. And then right in the middle of winter, comes Christmas, the time when we prepare our hearts to celebrate the baby Jesus and what that miracle truly means. God came to live among us to restore us to Himself.

As I mediated farther though, the harsh realities of wintertime came to mind, the seemingly endless cold weather chilling to the bones. These are the times in our lives when our circumstances seem to overwhelm us. Our faith in God is the only thing causing us to stand against the waves of impossibilities.

Then my thoughts were interrupted by a vision of the nativity scene, the baby Jesus in the middle with Joseph and Mary on either side with the stable covering them. Then the Lord spoke,

“I want to plant a little Christmas spirit right in the middle of the cold dark soil of the situation you are facing. I want my wisdom and solutions to be birthed within you. I want joy and excitement of your long awaited Savior coming to rise up within your heart. I want you to smile and laugh and dance with the sugar plum fairies. I want you to sing and praise until My blanket of peace surrounds you with love. I want you to remember I have come to empower you and lead you to victory.”

As I turned onto the interstate, I smiled as I thanked the Lord for His power and wisdom in my life.  

Are you in rough times right now? Do you need the Savior to plant a little Christmas spirit in your heart? It does not matter what time of year your winter comes. Go ahead, ask Him and then be willing and ready to get up and rejoice.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Telemarketer's Miracle

The phone rang. Melinda answered it with the same encouraging voice she always tired to use. When she realized the caller was a telemarketer, her heart began to get a little impatient. Melinda kept answering all the lady’s questions with “No, I don’t think so.” and hoping she would be finished soon. When Melinda happened to mention Jesus during an answer, suddenly the atmosphere of the call totally changed.

Tina (as I will call her) began telling Melinda about a recent experience she had had. Tina’s doctor wanted to do a breast biopsy but Tina was afraid. Finally, Tina gave in and went to have the procedure done.

As the procedure got underway, the doctor and nurse both suddenly exclaimed with unbelief, “There is no bleeding! There is nothing there. I don’t understand.”

Then, Tina saw a man entered the room. He had on a long white robe and shoulder-length hair. She didn’t recognize him and wondered why he was there so she questioned the doctor.  

“Who is that man standing there?” Tina questioned.

The doctor looked up and gave Tina a funny expression as he replied, “There is nobody standing here.” 

The man spoke, “You have been made whole.” Afterwards he left the room. Tina still did not recognize the man.

After the procedure, Tina searched the hallway but the man was nowhere to be found. However, when Tina arrived home, she discovered the man’s identity. The man’s picture was hanging on her wall. The picture was of Jesus.

For two weeks after the biopsy, the doctor’s nurse called Tina to see if she was having any problems at all. Tina kept reassuring the nurse each time that she was fine. The doctor asked if she would come back and get an x-ray to make sure everything was ok? She wasn’t sure so she said she would let them know when she decided.

Melinda responded to Tina’s miraculous story by encouraging her to continue to believe that Jesus had healed her and not allow the enemy to steal it from her. She no longing had the breast problem. Tina was healed and made whole!

Tina confided in Melinda that she was a Christian, but she had not had a lot of supernatural experiences. She was wondering why this experience had happened to her. She wasn’t expecting anything. Melinda reassured her again that she didn’t have to know a lot about the supernatural to receive something supernatural. God healed her because he wanted to show her His love, His tenderness, His mercy and His grace. It was His gracious gift in her in a time of need.

Melinda continued further by telling Tina that the miracle was not only a witness to her of His nearness during the bad times she was experiencing with her family but it was also a testimony she could proclaim to others. With that thought, Tina got real excited about all the possibilities ahead.

When Melinda and Tina finished their conversation, Tina said, “I feel so full and I am just so thankful. I know now, this was a divine encounter.”

I don’t know about you but I would have never thought a telemarketer’s phone call could become a divine encounter. However, all things are possible with God so we need to be willing to meet the need God places before for us through the power of the Spirit. God’s divine appointments can come anywhere, anytime, and with anything. Keep yourself ready and willing!