Monday, November 22, 2010

The Santa Secret

This is chapter one of the book "Everything you always wanted to know about Christmas" Discussions and Answers to my 11 yr old's questions.

Why are there so many Santa decorations? The image of Santa has become an icon and a symbol. It is a reminder to us of how joyful it is to be cheerful givers, and how blessed we are to be able to celebrate with our family and friends. For example, at our house we have an old plastic one that lights up. It was Grandma Grace’s. Daddy Brad remembers it from when he was a little boy. We have a cute one that my friend, Lisa, made for me out of a fireplace log. It reminds me of the parties we used to have with their family. We also have one that is a nesting set where the small one fits into a little larger one and so on. That was also a gift.

But my favorite one is a Santa kneeling beside the baby Jesus.

When I was a little girl I loved knowing that Santa would always remember me. He would bring me something wonderful every year without fail. He must really care about me to watch over me all the time and to give me gifts when I didn’t deserve them. I mean, let’s face it, I tried to be good, but really I was just as selfish as everyone else. It was amazing to me that there was someone who loved every child in the entire world.

Will the real hero please stand up! Yep, Santa was my hero. If someone tried to tell me that Santa was not real it would break my tender heart! I did not want it to be true. Yet somehow I knew something wasn’t quite right about this Santa fellow. I felt empty and lost because I knew that I needed a hero…that the world needs a hero.

My sadness was lifted when I finally learned that Jesus is real and he is much better than Santa.

Who is Santa, really?
Nicholas of Myra is a real guy, a good guy who loved God and children. He was a Christian and part of the early church in Rome. He secretly gave gold to a family that really needed it. When people found out it also inspired them to give gifts and money by hiding them in shoes and socks or by the fireplace. Later he became known as the legend of Father Christmas and Sinterklaas. You know what happens to stories, they grow bigger and bigger and more and more exaggerated. Then somebody writes a book or movie that turns Saint Nicholas into a kind of superhero with a flying sleigh and the ability to pause time.

How is Jesus better than Santa? Jesus is really the one who watches over you with love. His love for you will never stop no matter what happens. It is Jesus who sees you when you’re sleeping and knows when you’re awake. He knows what you hope for in your heart. He hears your every silent prayer. He won’t forget you ever. He wants the best for you. He is the one who forgives you when you are not good. He is the creator of beautiful mansions. He is the highest king. He wants to rescue you from harm and adopt you into his family. He does not need reindeer to fly because the Holy Spirit comes to you instantly whenever you invite Him. His helpers are not elves, they’re angels. It is Jesus who lives forever and also gives us the power to become immortal. He is the mighty hero who defeated death. He will someday rule the earth and make things right and fair and good.

We know that some adults do not want to give up the tradition of Santa because it brings back such good memories of their carefree childhood and they want to pass that along to their children. They want to create a magical world for their kids, if only for just one day a year. They also know that it is really fun to give a gift and not tell who it is from. The bible talks about this too. It says don’t even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Now that’s sneaky!

But it is possible to include Santa in Christmas without making him the focus. My kids were preschool age when they asked if Santa was real and I quickly said, “No, Honey, That is just a game we play, so don’t tell anybody”. They seemed to like being in on the secret. Wink, wink. I want to always tell them the truth so they don’t get confused like I was.

And now you are in on the secret, too. But I bet you already knew.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Take a Deep Breath

Think with me for a moment: We read that God breathed into Adam and he became a living soul. Scientist tell us that when we take oxygen into our lungs it gets picked up by our blood stream and our heart pumps it through our entire body and nourishes every cell.

The definition of spirit is wind, breeze, or breath. We know God is a spirit- of the spirit world, not of earthly elements- but of another dimension that is invisible to our earthly eyes.

We also know that with his breath God spoke the words that created the world. The same breath he breathed into Adam. The same breath that brought fourth the words in the bible.

We can speak out those very words written long ago and speak the same words God spoke. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. Spirit, breath, words.

With his breath he spoke to Mary and she became pregnant, creating within her the man who would have God’s spirit pulsing through his veins. The blood that Jesus shed during his unjust beatings was full of the holy spirit of God.

We can praise God with our spoken words and sing with our breath and breathe into ourselves his very presence. His spirit can flow in our veins like oxygen. It can pool in the chambers of our hearts until it gets pumped and propelled throughout our bodies.

The same spirit that raised Christ from the dead can dwell in us.

As Michael W. Smith wrote: This is the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me. This is my daily bread, your very word spoken to me. And I’m lost without you. And I’m desperate for you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


We all want to live on forever. But could it really be possible? The truth is out there, but many are blind to it. It’s supernatural, and the only way to see it is if a ghost reveals it to you – the Holy Ghost.

There is only one human who has ever conquered death. He allowed himself to be killed. But because of heaven’s strong spirit within him, he came back to life in an eternal body that can never die again. His name is Jesus.

If you ask him to, the spirit of God will gently begin to show you hidden things that you were blinded to before. All we have to do is think, or say – “Jesus, I open my heart to you. I invite you to show me the truth, and only the truth, no tricks, no lies.”

When we invite God’s spirit into us we automatically become eternal souls. Bling. So easy, so natural. When the time comes for our bodies to taste death we will simply step into God’s kingdom as his sons and daughters. Loved and cherished. Respected and admired. We will receive new bodies that will live forever.

Jesus’s love will slowly begin to seep into every corner of your heart. He will help you heal from past hurts. And from the pain of being unloved, not good enough, forgotten, taken advantage of, or abandoned, anything-and everything that causes fear, because it is only his perfect and pure love that annihilates fear. He will slowly begin to turn confusion into wisdom and pain into peace. There is nothing on this earth more wonderful or more powerful than God’s love for you. Wouldn’t it be sad to never find it?

The earth at this time is very much ruled by evil and ciaos. We see it everyday. The earth is not operating the way God originally planned it for mankind. God is only allowed in our lives as we invite him to be. It is our choice. That is called free will. And if we decide not to make a choice, then evil is the default mode we receive.

God has an enemy. He wants to deceive us into thinking that sin is fun, but actually sin kills. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give us life abundantly.

The Holy Spirit will also help us slowly begin to understand the ancient writings of the bible. They will bloom as a rose for us, one petal at a time.

And, yes, romantic love is great, but it does not take the place of the powerful, healing love that God has for us.

If it is so simple then how do we get so much religious junk and people who look down on others? I know we don’t want to become like that. That comes from people who begin by being led of God’s spirit within them, then somewhere along the line they stop listening and start making rules and standards and guidelines. There is only one guideline. Jesus. But remember, no matter how religious someone seems, God is still teaching them. No one on this earth has it all together.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Casting Our Crowns

Revelation 4:10, 11

When we see finally see Jesus sitting on his throne, it will mean that we were not banished from God’s kingdom, even though we deserved to be. How wonderful!

We will be so thankful and so happy and so full of love for Jesus that we will want to place all of our awards and titles at his feet. Anything great we did in life will seem small compared to what He did for us.

That means all of my trophies, my ribbons, my championships, and any awards I got at work or school.

At his feet there will be Olympic medals, Superbowl rings, Grammys, Emmys, prom queen and homecoming queen tiaras, Miss Universe crowns, gold records, Nobel Peace prizes, Scholarship awards…

So should we really be living our lives trying to prove that we are awesome by seeing how many awards we can win and how much success we can achieve? Can we ever have enough or will someone always have more?

Will God love us more if we accomplish more?

Does God love any one of his kids more than another?

If we become a great leader many people will love us and it will prove that we are something special, right?

Remember, everyone wants to be the leader. Everyone wants to prove that they are awesome. Everyone thinks his ideas are the best. Lucifer did this in God’s kingdom. He wanted to prove that he was just as wise and good as God. He wanted to earn all of the angel’s admiration. He couldn’t just follow God. He got banished.

Maybe it is not God we are trying to impress, maybe it is other people. Maybe even our mom or dad.

We can not fall into the trap of judging our self worth by how other people treat us. People are naturally selfish and cruel. People like to show that they are better than you. Then just when you think you have done something great to get them to like you, they don’t, because they are jealous of you instead of happy for you.

Don’t put your trust in people. We need to remember that imperfect people do not really know how to be kind, or give love. Perfect love comes only from God. If you need to earn a parent’s love or a friend’s respect, it can never fully be done. Our only response is to forgive them for withholding love and get free from that pressure.

Love is not to be earned. It is to be given freely. It has nothing to do with appearances or accomplishments.

Chasing awards, respect, and admiration is a trick from the enemy to rob us of enjoying our lives.

God loves us already. He invited us to come to live with him forever in his kingdom. He rescued us. He is our hero. We owe Him everything.

He created us with talents and abilities to develop. Enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

How do you "hear" from God? Follow the nudge.

So, you have invited Jesus in to your heart. And you really want to do God’s will. And you have heard people say that God told them this or that. But you are pretty sure that God had not “told” you anything. What’s up with that?

We know that God is always leading us. He sent his Holy Spirit to join with our spirit. That is how we became “born again” when Jesus was invited into our hearts. We were blind to the things of God before that. Dead. Spiritually dead. But now we have a new spirit alive within us that is always leading, teaching, and guiding us. “Talking” to us.

Can you hear it? Is it your conscience? Yes. But now that you are born again it is also the The Holy Spirit.

Now you have a choice. You can ignore this quiet little nudge, or you can obey it. If you ignore it, it can seem to get quieter and quieter as you follow your own reasoning, thoughts, and desires. It will get harder and harder to hear the Holy Spirit. Then we begin to feel that God has deserted us and does not care about us. But really it was us that ignored Him.

If we obey the quiet little nudge of the Holy Spirit it can seem to get louder and clearer to us. The quicker we obey, the closer we follow the Lord and the clearer His voice becomes to us. Like tuning in a radio. Jesus perfectly obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit while he was on the earth. It takes practice for us. The more you do it the more it becomes a natural way of life. This is one sure way to “hear” the Lord.

But what if that quiet little voice is not from God? How can you know? Do you know the character of God? That is why He made sure we have the bible, written by men who were inspired by the same Holy Spirit that is in you. So we can know what God is like. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you when you begin to study His word. The Holy Spirit will make God’s word clear for you a little at a time, like putting together a giant puzzle, piece by piece. It takes time and effort on our part, so don’t ever give up. Getting born again is quick, but growing up in God takes a lifetime.

We can love God and have the best intentions. But then all the cool things in this exciting world leave us no time to tune in on the things of God. We are busy with our jobs or school, and responsibilities, then our favorite games or TV or facebook. We can even be busy with our ministries or talents. There is nothing wrong with any of those things. But the bible tells us to “put God first”. That is our part. Find time, no, make time. Remember, God is quiet but the world is loud. We are to be following God, not having Him running after us.

The Holy Spirit might lead you to do different things at different times. God commonly gives new direction or thoughts to us when we are worshipping in song, or are quietly thinking about the scripture we just read, or are thinking through our problems after inviting Him into the situation, or are discussing Godly things with someone that we trust. But if you are following God and tuning in the best you can, but “hear” nothing new, then just trust, and stay thankful, and rest. This is how we learn to be patient and stay faithful.

There are also extreme ways to hear from God, but they are kind of rare. Someone could have a prophesy about you, or you could have a vision, or a God inspired dream. Sometimes you can have a very strong thought in your head that is not yours, but God’s. A few times in the bible God spoke out loud so that many people heard it at once. When we are in a crisis or scared we wish for this kind of voice. But usually God is the still small voice within us. More like a “knowing”. He reveals more and more to us as we follow, like headlights on a car, you can’t see what’s down the road until you move forward a little more.

The more you follow the ways of Jesus, the more you will know Him and the clearer his “voice” will become to you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What is Love? Baby, don’t hurt me. 1 Cor. 13: 4-7

What if every child in the world could say…My parents love me.
I know because they are patient and gentle with me.
They treat me with kindness. They are not cruel, or eager to punish me.
They don’t do evil things to me or take out their frustrations on me. Nor will they ignore me or forget about me.
When I am happy it makes them happy also. They rejoice in my successes.
They share what they have with me. My needs are important to them.
They are not sarcastic or rude to me. They don’t laugh at me, or make fun of me.
They always welcome me, never push me away. They want to spend time with me.
They don’t keep a mental list of all the times that I misbehaved or made mistakes.
They forgive me, restore me, help me find the right path.
They are glad when I am truthful. They don’t want me to hide things form them, even my true thoughts or questions.
They never throw me out of the family. They are loyal to me.
They always believe the best of me even when I don’t deserve it.
They are fiercely on my side. They protect me. They have hope for me.

And what if every wife could say…My husband loves me.
I know because he is so patient with me. He does not lose his temper on me.
He is always kind to me, not cruel. He will not harm me. He will not take out his frustrations on me.
He will not ignore me. When I am happy it makes him happy also.
He shares what he has with me. My needs are important to him.
He is not sarcastic or rude to me. He doesn’t laugh at me, or make fun of me.
He gives me high priority. Always makes time for me. Doesn’t put me last. Wants to hear my opinion.
He doesn’t keep a list of the times that I messed up. He forgives and forgets. We start fresh.
I can be truthful with him. And he gives me the truth in kind and gentle ways.
He never gives up on me and kicks me out. He is loyal to me.
He always assumes the best of me. He trusts me.
He always defends me. He is always on my side.
He always protects me. He has high hopes for us.
(Of course we should also turn this to say, “My wife loves me” in the same way.)

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 tells us that this is exactly what perfect love is. Therefore we can say…God loves me.
He will always be patient with me. He is not mad at me or demanding my allegiance.
He is always kind to me, not cruel. He is not out to harm me. Nor will He forget about me.
When I am happy it makes Him happy also. He wants good for me, not evil.
He shares what He has with me. My needs are important to Him.
He is not sarcastic or rude to me. He doesn’t laugh at me, or scoff at me, or send me away.
He gives me high priority. Always has time for me. He longs to spend time with me.
He doesn’t keep a list of the times that I messed up. He forgets them. We start fresh.
Through Jesus He forgives me, and renews our relationship. He shows me the right path.
He wants me to know truth. He gives me the truth in kind and gentle ways. The Holy Spirit and the Bible.
He wants to know the true me, all of me.
He never gives up on me and kicks me out of his family. He is loyal to me.
He always defends me. He is always cheering for me.
He always protects me. He has high hopes for me. He never fails.

No parent or spouse can possibly love us as well as God does. We each need His help, His healing, and His perfect love.