Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Santa or Jesus?

I was doing some Christmas shopping the other day and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" played over the intercom. As I listened to this familiar Christmas song I thought about who Santa is and who Jesus is. Both represent Christmas in some way, but it would seem that Santa is more popular than Jesus. People stand in lines at the mall for hours so their children can sit on Santa's lap, we sing about him, he's everywhere you look in Christmas decor. Some of our most cherished Christmas stories have to do with Santa. How much of that time and energy is spent on celebrating and recognizing Jesus? I would venture to say not nearly as much.

So as I thought about this, I thought about the characteristics and roles of both Santa and Jesus. Santa is a happy, jolly, man who brings toys to children once a year. He watches them all year long to make sure they've been good. If they have been good, they get lots of presents. Supposedly, if they have been naughty, they don't get anything, or maybe a lump of coal. Now, most little kids get presents from "Santa" anyway, even when they've been naughty, but the idea is to convince them to be as good as possible so they can get the presents that they want from Santa. It's all dependent on their behavior for the whole year. Think about the lyrics to that song:

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
He's making a list
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows if you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!

It's really kind of weird if you think about it. It's almost like instead of teaching your kids to be good because it's the right thing to do, you teach them to be good because otherwise Santa won't bring them presents. I know most parents don't see it this way; they're just going along with a fun tradition. But if you really think about who Santa is...well he's not very forgiving, he shows favoritism, and he doesn't provide any real joy, only superficial happiness from possessions.

What's interesting is this is actually how a lot of people think about God. They think He's up there watching them all the time to make sure they're being good to see if they will be able to get into Heaven or not. They think if they're good enough, He'll answer their prayers or bless them with money and possessions. Much like Santa, they think He watches for a really long time only to make one decision--Santa decides what presents you get on one day based on a year's worth of behavior, and God decides if you get into Heaven based on a lifetime's worth of behavior.

But that's not at all true! God sent us Jesus on Christmas (technically it wasn't on Dec. 25th, but that's beside the point) as a substitute for His wrath. Jesus paid the price for our sins and poor behavior. Because of Jesus, we can not only be forgiven for our sins, but we get new hearts with the Holy Spirit living in us. He doesn't just forgive us, he SAVES us. And that doesn't just mean saving us from Hell, it means saving us from the bondage of sin that we live in while on Earth. Our new hearts change us to give us strength and goodness to defeat Satan and his powers of evil. That is totally and completely different than anything Santa does. Santa doesn't forgive us, he doesn't provide any assistance on doing the right thing, and he certainly doesn't provide any type of substitute to bear our mistakes. Um, so why is he more popular?

Just read some of the lyrics of another familiar Christmas song... "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." And you tell me--who would you rather celebrate?

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Saviour
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Help for a Friend

As most of you know, one of my coworkers Jan Reynolds has been struggling with a failing heart. I'm pleased to say that she is doing better than she was a few weeks ago. She actually started back to work this week, but only for half days. She is still very weak and has to be careful with everything she does. At this point she is just waiting on the phone call to say they have a heart for her. Please be praying with us that this happens soon!

I'm also excited to announce that the Georgia Transplant Foundation has opened up donations for Jan's medical expenses. A lot of the costs of the actual operation will be covered by insurance, but the medications and treatments she will continue to need after the operation are extremely expensive. Even with insurance, the copays alone can be too expensive for the average income.

I know money is tight for all of us right now with the holidays just around the corner, the recession, and general expenses. But I also know that we cannot out-give God. Please be praying about whether or not God would have you donate to this fund, and how much you should give. If you give faithfully and with a cheerful heart, you will be blessed. I'm not trying to say if you give to this God will give you a surprise check of some large amount, but I do believe if you give to Jan's fund, God will make sure you still have what you need. So, please, consider giving to this cause. It is something that is very important to me and my entire office. We all love Jan very much and want to help her in any way possible. Scott and I have made a small donation and plan to give more after our next paycheck. Every little bit helps, so even if it's only $ will help! And you can always give more later if you feel called to do so.

The website is This is the blog about Jan's condition, recovery, and fundraising attempts. There is a link on that post that will take you to the actual donation site. I thought you might like to see the blog first so you can read a little more about Jan. If you want to stay informed about this issue, please follow that blog.

Thanks so much for your donations and prayers! God bless!
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