Why My Kids Do Not Believe in Santa (2022 Version)

My children do not believe in Santa Claus. They never did. To some, this is an obvious move. To others, this is a shock. What’s the deal? Am I some sort of anti-holiday Scrooge? Am I some sort of overzealous fundamentalist? Why in the world would I not have my little ones believe in Santa?

People have asked many times about what our family decided to do about Santa at Christmas time when our kids were little. And, every year, I share a version of this post to try to explain the process that my wife and I went through in deciding our answer to the big question: To Santa or not to Santa.

Since you know the answer already, let me very briefly tell you the reasoning that made the no Santa policy in my home. Then, I will share with you a bit of how we dealt with Santa.

Christmas is a holiday that has been highly over-commercialized in the US for years. People focus on winter, on trees, on lights, on gifts, and not on Jesus. And you know what, none of those are the reasons why my family did not tell my children that Santa was real.

Here is my bottom line reasoning: If I tell my children to believe in a figure that they cannot see, that he watches them from afar, that he judges their motives and actions, that he has supernatural powers, and that he will visit them with gifts every Christmas, they will eventually find out that I have intentionally told them to believe in something that is not true. This fact will not do much for my credibility in telling them true things about God, who is invisible to them, who watches over them though they cannot sense it, who judges their thoughts and actions, and who will bless them with eternal blessings if they will trust in Christ. So, simply put, my wife and I determined that we will never tell our children that something is true when we know that it is not, because it is far too important that they be able to believe us when we tell them some things are true that they cannot see.

How did we deal with Santa and Santa stuff? It’s quite simple. Ever since Abigail was tiny, we worked to distinguish the difference between true stories and pretend ones. In our house, if a story began with “A long time ago…,” it was a true story. If a story began with, “Once upon a time…,” it was a pretend story. The kids did surprisingly well making those distinctions. They still enjoyed the stories that they knew were not real just as any children do—just as I still do.

Since my children had no trouble enjoying that which they knew not to be real, my wife and I never got all crabby when a family member wrapped a Christmas gift and put “From: Santa” on the label. We did not find ourselves upset when they wanted a musical Rudolph toy from Wal-Mart (well, no more upset than when they wanted any obnoxious, noise-making toy). We did not get bent out of shape when a Santa ornament made its way onto a tree near us. We didn’t even mind taking snapshots of them sitting on the knee of a portly, bearded guy in a red, fuzzy suit, though that really was never a big thing for them.

I think that you can tell from what I’ve already written, but just in case it is not clear, Mitzi and I do not look at our decision about Santa as the only possible one. This is a matter of conscience and preference. There is not Scripture that states, “Thou shalt not ho, ho, ho.” I grew up believing in Santa, and it really didn’t harm my worldview that much (so far as I can tell). But, for me and my house, we simply made a decision that we wanted our children to know that Mommy and Daddy would always tell them the truth, and that trumped our desires to have beaming little people listening for sleigh bells on Christmas Eve.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, we also tried our best to keep our children from being the ones who spoil it for others. All three were both told in no uncertain terms that they were not to make it their mission to correct the Santaology of other children. They answered truthfully when asked by other little ones, but they, to my knowledge, never tried to be anti-Santa evangelists.

Hear my heart as I wrap up this post. I am not here attempting to change any family’s plans for how to handle Christmas. Nor am I asking any person to take down Santa décor if we’re coming over. Nor am I suggesting that, if you have just watched a Claymation special with your kids that you have ruined their spiritual chances for the future. So, you do not need to send me cranky comments defending your traditions. Santa stuff is a lot of fun. I love fun stories and the joy of imagination. (We even watch Harry Potter nearly every year around the Christmas season simply because the music feels Christmassy to us; so obviously we are not the strict, non-fiction parents that you might be imagining.) But, since many ask, here is the answer: we made a choice to be able to tell our children that, when mom and dad say something is real, we fully believe it to be real.

We Need memory

Mark 8:4

And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

In Mark 8, Jesus is again presented with a large crowd that has no food. The Savior, out of compassion, asks his disciples to take a hand in feeding them. But the disciples are, as we see above, daunted by the task.

The reason that this passage stands out to me is the fact that disciples seem here to be forgetting their own recent history. It is not that long ago that Jesus, using 5 loaves and 2 fish, fed a crowd of 5,000 men not counting women and children. Here the disciples are in a very similar situation, seeing a very similar crowd, and they wonder how in the world that crowd might be fed.

Does this not tell us something of our nature and our need? We are a forgetful people. When our minds are not focused strongly on what we know to be true, we forget it to our own hurt. The disciples knew that they were standing right next to the one who calms stormy seas, raises the dead, and feeds massive crowds with miraculous bread. Yet they ask how this might be done today. Are we not similar? Do we not forget the truths we know too?

Our need is memory, faithful and biblical memory. We need to be reminded of the God we serve. We need to be reminded of his love, his power, and his glory. We need to rehearse the times of God’s faithful provision that we have experienced. Even more, we need to set our minds on the glorious claims of Holy Scripture that remind us that our God spoke the universe into existence, parted the Red Sea, and did the work to save our very souls. Let us not forget but let us remember and trust the Lord.

Why Are Christians So Hung Up on Sex

Mark 6:22 – For when Herodias’s daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests. And the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will give it to you.”

Many of the major disagreements between Christians and non-Christians relating to morality in our culture are deeply personal. Many of our differences have to do with morality as it relates to sex, sexuality, gender, and such things. Perhaps you have even heard a person ask why it is that Christians seem to be so hung up on the sexual morals of society.

There are, of course, many answers to this question. The fact is, God has every right to command us in every area of life, including our sexuality. God has the sole right to define for humanity the purpose of human sexuality and the point of things like marriage, gender, family, and all the rest. God has the right to tell us what will be acceptable and what will not.

But add to the simple fact of God’s lordship here that God made us. God knows how we work best. God knows what will ultimately help us and what will ultimately harm us.

Consider what we see in the above passage. King Herod threw himself a birthday party and was enamored of the dance of his wife’s daughter. Understand that this dance, according to many scholars, was not merely a polite little ballet. Instead, this was likely a sensual performance that fired the blood of the king. In fact, the king was driven to a place where he made a rash vow to the girl in front of the people at the party. He swore he would give her anything she asked for. And the girl, after consultation with her mother, asked the king to behead John the Baptist. The king, though unwillingly, gave in to her request.

John the Baptist was in Herod’s prison. John had preached openly of the sin that Herod committed when he stole away his brother’s wife, the girl’s mother. Thus, when the girl knew she had a boon from the king, and when she asked her mom what to ask the king for, the mom, feeding her desire to continue in sin without reproof led her daughter to demand the murder of the prophet.

Without overdoing anything here, see what happened. The king had his blood stirred by a sensual, sexualized performance. In that heat, he made a promise he did not afterward wish to fulfill. And all the machinations of this twisted scene of a man stirred up with lust for his wife’s daughter led to the murder of a man of God who simply told the truth.

What we must grasp is that our drives are very strong. If we are not careful to keep our desires in the right place, we will be led to places that can utterly destroy us and destroy our society. We cannot give humanity free reign to express our sexuality in whatever way we want, as doing so leads to destruction. And God, who knows us and knows how he made us, knows that better than even we know it ourselves.

I have said to people before that fire is lovely in a fireplace but terrible when the whole house is aflame. Fire is lovely at a campsite but terrible when spread through the whole forest. And our drives, even our sexuality, can be beautiful, wonderful, and lovely. Yet, when our drives are removed from the place God intended them to be, they are deadly. God has told us what he requires and what is best for us. Our sexuality is to be reserved for marriage, the covenant union of one man and one woman for life. may we not compromise that standard lest we dishonor God and do ourselves and our society great harm.

A HEAR Journal from Luke 1

As I wrap up the year in my Bible reading, I’ve returned to doing a little HEAR journaling. This is a technique that helps me to focus on something from the daily readings and unpack it a bit. HEAR stands for highlight, explain, apply, and respond. I find this pattern helpful, and perhaps you will too.

H – Highlight

Luke 1:76-79

76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

E – Explain

Here Zechariah speaks a word of prophecy over his newborn son, John—later John the Baptist. John will prepare the way for Jesus to come. Even more, he will prepare the people of Israel to have something greater than they have known before. John is not going to simply prepare the way for the nation to have general success, land promises, and the rest. John will help the people toward knowledge of God and forgiveness of their sins.

Because of my recent work in the covenants, the topic of forgiveness coming to the people from the promised one rings in my mind. Much of the Old Covenant made room for the nation of Israel to live in the presence of God in the land. The forgiveness achieved in the sacrificial system was first a forgiveness that kept God from having to destroy the nation. God, of course, would not destroy the whole nation, because he intended to bring the Messiah through the nation of Israel. But personal forgiveness of sins and personal relationship with God was not achieved through animal sacrifice. Instead, relationship with God was achieved by God’s grace through faith as the faithful Israelites believed the promises of God. The sacrifices pointed toward the work God would achieve when he finally sent his Son.

Thus, what grabs me is just how much greater the salvation is that we see promised in Luke 1. What John will point the people toward is greater than the Old Covenant. It is sweet and merciful. It is glorious and gracious.

A – Apply

I think the best way to apply this passage is to again stop, think, and be very grateful for life in the New Covenant. We do not look at a bloody animal sacrifice and long for the fulfillment of a promise of a sacrifice that will give us true forgiveness. Instead, in Christ, our forgiveness has been achieved. Our hope is now in his return. So, right response is gratitude, faith, hope, and worship. Right application is a call to love the gospel and be sure to proclaim it.

R – Respond

Lord, I thank you for forgiveness in Christ. I know that I could never achieve anything that would earn me your favor. I know that I deserve death a million times over. That you would send your Son to be my salvation is glorious. I pray that you will make me faithful to you, to your worship, to your church, and to the spreading of your gospel for your glory.

Stay and Tell

Mark 5:18-20

18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.

In Mark 5, Jesus did something utterly stunning. Jesus drove a legion of demons out of a possessed man. Jesus, solely by his might, the might of Almighty God, overpowered demonic forces, made them tremble, and sent them away. Jesus, in glorious kindness, healed a man many thought unreachable.

After this was all over, the man was grateful. That is understandable. And the man asked Jesus to allow him to travel with him and his disciples.

In the Savior’s response to the man, we can learn something for ourselves. Jesus told the man not to come with him on his travels. Instead, the Savior called on the man to go back home, live a normal life, and tell people about how much the Lord had done for him. And this is what the man did. People were amazed, people praised God, because of the man’s account of what the Savior had done.

Here we stand looking back on this event over nearly two millennia of history. There is something for us to see. A man had his entire life and world changed by Jesus. He wanted, originally, to leave his home and go follow Jesus to other lands. The Savior said that what this man should do is take the truth of Jesus back into his own hometown.

What about you? Has Jesus done a miracle for you? Are you saved? If you are saved, then Jesus has given you life and forgiveness in God. Jesus has changed you. You have a story to tell. It is the story of one who was dead and whom God made alive. Tell it. Do not think you have to go on a mission trip to another country to tell it. Tell it at home. Tell it where you work. Tell it where you shop. Tell it to your friends. Tell it to your family. Just tell people what the Lord has done for you and ask them if they want to know him too.

Of course it is glorious when we get to go on missions to other cities and even other countries. But Jesus shows us right here that it is also wonderful when people whose lives have been changed tell their neighbors. You do not need seminary training to tell somebody that you have hope and joy in life because of Jesus, that you have forgiveness of sin because of Jesus, that you have been changed by Jesus. It does not take a missionary calling to say to someone that, if they would like to know about the Jesus you love, you would be happy to read through a book of the Bible with them or bring them with you to church so they can hear about him too. It is not a scholarly endeavor to tell people that God is holy, we are rebels, Jesus died as the only way we can be made right with God, and we gain new life by God’s grace when we repent and believe in the living Jesus. Dear friends, may we tell the story of what Jesus has done for us. It is great to go and tell. It is also great to stay and tell.

Seeing the Miraculous with Fresh Eyes

Mark 5:15 – And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.

Mark 5:33 – But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.

Mark 5:42b – …and they were immediately overcome with amazement.

There is an old proverb that says that familiarity breeds contempt. Sometimes when you are too familiar with a thing, you stop being amazed by it; you stop loving it.

How close do we come to this as we read through the works of Jesus. If you red your Bible regularly—as you should—you might become very familiar with the scenes of the supernatural. Is it possible that these are no longer jaw-dropping for you? Friends, If you saw them in person, they certainly would be.

In Mark 5, we see three miracles that will blow us away if we will see them with fresh eyes. First, Jesus meets a demon-possessed man. The man is so far gone that he is a danger to himself and others. He is so full of evil and supernatural power that he breaks chains that are intended to bind him for his own safety and that of others.

What happens when this man meets Jesus? The Savior drives out the legion of demons. And when the people see the man, he is, for the first time, clothed and in his right mind. Jesus defeated the powers of the devil. Jesus fixed a man who had been broken for years. Jesus overpowered a man who could overpower large groups of men. Jesus showed great love and great power.

Later, Jesus is met by a woman who had been suffering with a medical ailment for more than a decade. The woman, in faith, touched Jesus’ garment, and her socially damaging and physically crippling disorder was healed.

You know how frustrating medical care is today in a world of antibiotics, surgeries, and technology. How stunning is it to see a long-term illness removed in an instant? How loving? How wonderful?

Then, Jesus stands in a room with a dead twelve-year-old girl and her family. The Savior looks at the body—no breath, no life, no blood flow. The family is weeping. Jesus sends most people away, speaks a word to the girl, and she gets up. The parents, who believed they had lost their dear little one, have her back again. This should blow our minds.

Notice the three responses to the miracles that Jesus performed. Above, we list verses that show that fear and amazement are the responses from everybody. Why? The things Jesus did do not happen in the real world. But they happened in the real world. They happened in the world you walk into every day. They happened in the air you breathe. Jesus beat demons, disease, and death, and he did not break a sweat. Jesus is mighty, mightier than you think. Jesus is gracious, more gracious than you think. Jesus is loving, far more loving than you have ever imagined. You want to know this Jesus. You want to love this Jesus. You want to, as did the crowds, properly fear and be amazed by Jesus. Do not let your familiarity with these accounts breed contempt in your heart. See them afresh, imagine yourself there, and let it stun you with the glory of Jesus.

Jesus Preached the Word

Mark 2:2b

And he was preaching the word to them.

This sentence applies to Jesus. He, the Lord Jesus, was preaching the word to the crowd. Praise god for this little reminder. Jesus preached the word!

When you think of Jesus, do you remember his preaching? We love the miracles. We love the healings. We watch the confrontations. We smile at the kindnesses. But do we think of the fact that Jesus preached the word?

Jesus preached. Our Savior found value in the proclamation of truth. He did not seem to think that his proclamation should be replaced with dramas, with showiness, with mere conversation. Something about the authoritative proclamation of the word was central to the ministry of the Savior.

Jesus preached the word. What is the word? Jesus preached Scripture. Jesus did not stray from it. Jesus did not replace it. Jesus did not run to worldly philosophy. Jesus, God the Son, God in flesh, chose to preach to the people the already written word of God. Yes, during his ministry, Jesus brought new words. This was, after all, a time of an open canon of authoritative revelation. But right here, Mark emphasizes for us that it is the word Jesus preached.

Should this not impact what we think we should be about? In your church, is the preaching of the word central? Jesus preached. Is preaching central? Jesus preached the word. Is the word final and authoritative? If we want to be like Jesus in our churches, we must be devoted to preaching the word.

What does the Touch of Jesus Do?

Mark 1:40-42

40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

In the Old Testament law, to touch someone sick with leprosy was to make yourself ceremonially unclean. The picture, of course, is that, since God is so totally holy, we, if we want to be near him, must not be contaminated with anything. Touching unclean animals, dead things, or even an unclean person could render you unable to participate in community life.

Without unpacking all of the typology in the law system, without talking about how the laws of ceremonial cleanness helped the Israelite community, I want to simply point to one glorious truth in the passage above. Jesus touched a leper. Jesus made him clean.

The story is simple. The leper asks for healing. Jesus touches him and heals him. In that, we see the great power of Jesus as God to push back the darkness of the fall and bring healing to a body in a miraculous way. WE see the kindness of Jesus, touching one that had been untouchable.

But the thing that grabs my attention is this. In any other instance, the uncleanness of the person would be transmitted to the one who touched the unclean person. But not with Jesus. When Jesus touched the leper, Jesus’ cleanness was transferred to the leper.

I once heard a person say that, if you garden with white gloves, you are not likely to end up with glovey mud. No, you get muddy gloves. That is how the normal world works. Something would have to be spectacularly strange for the gloves to remain clean and the mud to be changed. But, dear friends, this is what happens when Jesus touches us.

Jesus is incorruptible. He is the holy God in flesh. Nothing, not a single thing, could touch Jesus and make him unclean. Instead, if something touches Jesus, the thing that touches Jesus is changed. It must either be made clean or consumed. But the thing touching Jesus cannot change him, as he is the unchanging and unchangeable God.

Praise Jesus for being so much greater than we are. He can reach right into our dirty lives and make us clean. He has no fear of our needs, as he is not able to be made unclean. But, rightly fear Jesus, because his holiness is also deadly to sin.

What will the touch of Jesus do to you? It depends. Are you under his grace? All people will stand in his presence. Those who are not under his grace will be consumed like a piece of tissue paper on the face of the fiery sun. Those who have believed in him and come to him for mercy will be transformed, made holy and clean by the sweet and merciful Savior.

The Gospel Jesus Preached

Mark 1:14-15

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

If we wish to have the gospel, the good news of God, correct, it would be wise for us to know that we are preaching the same gospel Jesus preached. Here in the beginning of mark’s telling of the gospel, we see it. I would argue that this is simple, lovely, and not necessarily what you hear in every church out there.

When Jesus began to preach, he began by telling people that the time was fulfilled. That is not a throw-away line. The time that God had set from eternity past for his fulfillment of his promise to bring about the salvation of his people was finally at hand. That the time could be fulfilled tells us the time had been set. That the time had been set tells us that the plan had been made long beforehand. The gospel is the outworking of God’s eternal plan that has been and still is being perfectly fulfilled.

Jesus tells the people that God’s kingdom is at hand. This too is glorious. God reigns as king over the universe. God holds all authority over the earth. And God is building a kingdom, bringing his king, accomplishing his will. If you know your Old Testament, you know that God has promised and promised and promised a savior who will be a king. Everything about Adam in the garden indicated a man who was to reign over the world as a regent under God. The Lord promised Abraham that kings would spring from his line. God promised David that a king from his line will rule the world forever. So the idea of the kingdom of God being at hand tells us that what Jesus is about to do, what is contained in the gospel, includes God bringing about the rule he has been promising since the beginning. There is no way to have this part of the message of Jesus right while unhitching from the Old Testament.

Then Jesus tells the people to repent and believe the gospel. This is a bit more familiar, though many fail to call people to repent. Repenting involves a change in your thinking, your emotion, and your action. For a person who is outside of God’s family, repenting means realizing that you are lost and need God’s forgiveness. It means realizing that you cannot be lord of your own life and have God as your king. It means letting go of your supposed right to be in charge of yourself, yielding yourself to God, and bowing to him as Lord, Master, King. Repenting means turning from a willful embrace of sin, letting go of that which God forbids and embracing that which God commands. There is no salvation without repentance.

The call to believe is the flip side of the repentance coin. If I cannot rule myself, trust myself, own myself, or save myself, I must rely on someone else. Believing includes a mental acceptance that Jesus is who he claims to be. Jesus is God’s son and our only hope for salvation. Jesus lived the perfect obedience God requires and fulfilled all the requirements of God’s holy standard. Jesus died as the only sacrifice that can actually take away our sins. Jesus rose from the dead, proving he is exactly what he claimed to be. Jesus ascended into heaven where he offered his blood in the heavenly holy of holies once for all who will be saved. And Jesus receives to himself all who will repent and entrust themselves to his care.

Do you preach the gospel Jesus preached? Is it tied to the eternal decree of God? Does it involve the kingdom of God? Do you include a call to repent? Is belief, faith alone in Christ alone, central? I hope so, as the gospel Jesus preached is the only gospel that saves.

No Guard Could Stop Jesus

Matthew 27:65-66

65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

After Jesus was crucified, the chief priests and the Pharisees approached the governor with a concern. They realized that, during his ministry, Jesus predicted his resurrection. Not believing that Jesus is God, the Pharisees assumed his resurrection to be an impossibility. But they asked the governor to help them by securing the tomb so that the disciples could not come and steal away the body and falsely claim a resurrection. And this move by unbelievers is a tremendous encouragement to all who know Jesus.

Pilate allowed the Jews to use soldiers to officially seal the tomb and make it secure. And the Bible tells us that they did their very best. And this encourages all of us who know Jesus.

Why is this encouraging. The guard made it impossible for the disciples to come and steal the body of Jesus out of the tomb. But they could not seal the tomb against the power of the Son of God. Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus, God in flesh, walked out of the tomb. There was no power on earth that could have prevented him from standing again on the earth, under the sky, fully alive once more.

Mankind has tried to control God ever since the garden. And ever since the garden, mankind has been unable to thwart God’s plan at any single step. No guard could hold Jesus in a tomb. Death could not hold Jesus in a tomb. God’s eternal plan included him accomplishing his people’s redemption through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. How glorious is it for us to see that, even though the strongest army on earth tried to keep Jesus in the grave, they did not stand a chance? Praise be to our living Savior.