Is Santa Clause Dangerous for Christian Children?

At the risk of being called an Ebenezer Scrooge, I wanted to address an issue every Christian parent should consider. The issue of Santa Clause.

Let’s face it, Santa Clause is the worst thing to happen to a Christian celebration of Christmas. We make kids believe in a fat man who hands out gifts unfairly and makes out with mom, and then ask them to believe in Jesus.

modern American beliefs about Santa come from Dutch settlers in New York and reach us by way of department store marketing and Thomas Nast cartoons. But, as many people know, the modern Santa Claus evolved out of St. Nicholas.

Nicholas lived in southwestern Turkey in the fourth century and, according to legend, performed a number of miracles involving sailors and children. He was from a wealthy family and, in a prefiguration of modern stockings, would occasionally toss gold through the windows of less fortunate neighbors to help them through hard times.

In one particularly gruesome miracle story, he resurrected three children who had been murdered by a butcher for their meat. The miraculous feat earned him the status of patron saint of children and put him on course to becoming the bearded fat man in the red suit.

You might be asking, If the historical St. Nick was a good man, where is the harm, where is the foul?

We don’t teach the historical St. Nicholas as a lesson to our children, we teach them about a fairy tale in the same breath we teach them about a historical Jesus.

Consider that we give Santa almost God-like qualities. He can travel around the world in a single night. He sees you when you are good or bad, sleeping or waking. He knows if you have been eating your veggies and doing your chores.

elf-on-the-shelfThese days we have added the Elf on the Shelf to assist Santa. Here is an excerpt from the Elf website.

The Elf on the Shelf® is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa Claus manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts an elf and gives it a name, the elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa Claus about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the elf returns to its family and perches in a different place to watch the fun. Children love to wake up and race around the house looking for their elf each morning.

But even a five year old can see that Santa doesn’t give gifts fairly. My kids always noticed that wealthier families seemed to get a whole lot more than they did, even if those kids were naughty!

There is nothing more difficult to explain than why Santa brought a new iPad or laptop to the Nelly Olsen down the street and your child got pens and paper.

At some point, you have to fess up that Santa is not real. He is just a fairy tale. Someone everyone made up to get the kids to behave. But, Jesus is real. He sees everything and knows what you are up to without the elf. Jesus was born of a virgin, did miracles including healing people and multiplying bread and fish. He can even take away your sin.

Jesus is nothing like Santa.

The modern Christmas elevates Santa Clause to equal status to Jesus for church going children. I would even say that Santa has superseded Jesus even in Christian homes. So when Santa is exposed, how do we expect Jesus to remain unscathed?

Is Santa Clause dangerous for Christian children? I hold that Santa can steal your child’s faith.

Who Do You Turn to For Life’s Questions?

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If you are anything like me, you want to know that the decisions you are making are the right ones. Who to marry, what your career should be, where to live and so on. You don’t want to have a misstep.

This is normal. We should ask such life questions, but where do we turn for the answers? We pray to the Lord and yet He seems silent and unyielding, so we seek advise from others. We want spiritual insight, so we might seek those that seem spiritual.

For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so. -Deuteronomy 18:14

Before we start turning to palm readers, horoscopes or even life coaches we should understand that the Lord is very serious about where we get our advice. The bible states in Deuteronomy 18:12 that whoever practices the occult arts is “detestable to the Lord”.

This would include magic 8 balls, Ouija boards and even the Charlie, Charlie Challenge where a couple of pencils are used to call on “spirits” for advise.

As I am sure you well know, everyone has advise to share on how to live your life, but where should we turn for sound and Godly advise?

At one time, when the prophets would speak for God could you turn to them? Could you turn to the Apostles or God’s judges? To a lesser degree, sure. But for the most part such people representing God were given a message to deliver, not advise to give.

“Word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent” -1 Samuel 3:1

Let’s face it, a true prophet of the Lord is rare today. Some would even say the office is closed. So again where are we to turn when we need true guidance?

Who Do You Turn to For Life’s Questions?

Seeking advice on how to live your life as you are living it is like traveling without a map and a destination. Until you know where you are going, you can not plan the route and you can’t plan the route without a good map.

What would a well lived life look like from the Lord’s vantage point?

The Scriptures are God’s reveled will and expectation for us, it has been given to us to understand principles and lifestyles not advice on the side of the road.

When selecting a spouse, we understand from the principles taught in God’s word that we are to be Godly people who seek to join with other Godly people. Marriage is more than passion and physical intimacy but a choice to become one flesh unified by one Spirit.

A family is more than just the by-product of passion and pleasure but a privilege and an honor to be taken seriously and thoughtfully in order to raise the next generation of God fearers who love the Lord with all of their hearts.

The reason the Lord detests soothsayers and palm readers and other forms of false spirituality is that we are not looking to Him, the true source of how to live. You can’t understand how to live well from a day’s cursory reading of the bible, you certainly can’t learn from someone who claims to speak to the dead or to demons.

But you can learn to live well as a disciple of Jesus Christ, one who makes learning the Ways of the Lord a life’s work.

Here is the full sermon from Pastor Paul Holt.

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In the Twinkling of an Eye

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in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 1Corinthians 15:52

Change can come quickly. This was true for the children of Israel, when the Lord set them free from the bondage in Egypt it was sudden. It was so sudden that there was no time for the everyday things. They had to make their bread in a hurry.

You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 16:3)

In this life we are not usually able to know when opportunities for change will occur.

Israel had been crying out to the Lord in prayer for an end to suffering. Their enslavement had been cruel and unjust, their taskmasters had been driving them hard to build the great cities in Egypt that were a tribute to Pharaoh. The children of Israel, the grandson of Abraham who had rejected idol worship, were being forced to build cities of great idols.

Then there were the children.
In their fear, the Egyptians had decided to kill the first born children of Israel. The heartbreak and anguish was more than they could bear and so their cry was heard in heaven and the Lord was moved to act.

The Lord recalled the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is no small thing for the Lord to directly intervene in the lives of men, when He does act in this way it is life altering. Things begin to happen at break neck speed, choices must be made and action taken in the twinkling of an eye, in the beat of a heart.

This is true for repentance.

When the Lord comes knocking on the door of our heart, we must choose. Choose to answer the door, choose to let Him come in and have fellowship with us. We must choose to change direction and walk with Him instead of on our own. We must choose in an instant to change the direction of our life at His invitation or continue the way we have walked for so long.

That is what happened to the children of Israel. The Lord arrived on the scene turned their world upside down, He challenged them to leave in a hurry to join Him or remain behind in a world that wanted to kill them.

The same is true for us. Will we choose the Lord and His way of life or will we remain joined to this world that only wants to enslave and kill us?

Choose now, but choose quickly.

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The Doctrine of Jesus vs The Doctrine of Balaam


There was a teaching that brought destruction to Israel, the doctrine of Balaam. It was and is a simple thing to destroy a Godly people. Because to attack them directly will fail due to the Lord’s protection, just appeal to their flesh.
There is also a doctrine, a sound doctrine of Jesus that teaches obedience to God’s word. This doctrine brings blessings and the goodness of the Lord to His people.
In this sermon, Pastor Paul Holt of First Baptist Church of Magdalena contrasts the doctrine of Balaam against the doctrine of Jesus and how the enemy is still using it to remove God’s protection from His people and cause judgment on the house of God.

Can God Still Bless America this 4th of July?

Independence Day.  I hope you know the history. I pray you’ve read the Declaration. Most of all, I pray that you understand the biblical underpinnings of where liberty and self-government come from.

I grew up in small town Texas until I moved to Albuquerque at 12. The elementary school I attended was a public school, but there was corporate prayer and bible reading and the entire school recited the pledge of allegiance together.

I recall the pride I had in decorating a bicycle for the 1976 4th of July parade. I love the color blue, so taking my blue bike and wrapping paper streamers of red, white and blue and finding ways to decorate the spokes even more, I thought for sure I would win the prize for the best bike in the line up.

It was a different time for sure, but it was not all that long ago. I remember seeing so many people lining the streets we paraded down, waving flags and cheering to see the veterans of this war or that.

Granted my developing a mild case of heat stroke interrupted the event for me, but my mom got me into the shade and gave me a never-ending cup of water or Gatorade. As a nine year old, this parade and the fireworks and speeches that followed re-enforced a patriotism that is deeply rooted in me to this day.

Something that goes deeper is the understanding that this nation came about not as a result of the will of man, but the providence of God. If you haven’t done recently, read the Declaration of Independence.

Really, go read it.

Did you read it all the way through? If you did, I would image that you recognize that our liberty comes from the Creator. That He gave men the right to choose their government.

This is nearly impossible for an ungodly people to understand. They prefer tyranny because sin draws them to it. The enemy understands this too. That is why he employees the doctrine of Balaam.

The scripture (Torah) portion for this week is Numbers 22:2-25:9. It is the story of Balak hiring Balaam to curse Israel. I won’t give you a full on commentary here, but the story ends with Balaam telling Balak that if he would like to stop Israel, the secret is to corrupt Israel and remove the protection of God and worse, bring the judgment of God on the people of God.

The doctrine of Balaam shows up again in Revelation 2, but suffice to say if what Abraham Lincoln stated is true, America will not be destroyed from the outside but from within by choosing immorality over righteousness.

Let’s face facts here; around New Mexico and around the United States, the parades have mostly stopped. If they happen at all, they are smaller affairs and poorly attended.

The 4th of July for many Americans has become just another excuse to eat and drink too much while fulfilling their inner pyromaniac with pathetically weak fireworks due to over regulation by the nanny state.

There are many planning to burn US flags this 4th of July because of real or perceived injustice, but how many are willing to change their lives and do the hard work needed to restore liberty and freedom.

We are more concerned about abolishing the Confederate flag because we have no moral standard to live by. Many feel better by driving this flag from the public square to appease the nagging voice in them that says things are wrong.

True independence is achieved by drawing near to God. Liberty is found in the Spirit of God and the rejection of sin. Real freedom can only come from humbling ourselves before the King and submitting to His authority.

Can you see how the doctrine of Balaam being embraced by the people of our country is removing the protection of God and setting the stage for a plague to sweep across America?

The cure is available and it is the same as it was for Israel, reject the worship of idols and reject sexual immorality.

Here is a practical way to start. If your church or group of friends is not already planning something for the 4th, call up other believers and agree to come together for more than burgers, hot dogs and fireworks.

Bring the kids, and have a time of prayer, read the declaration of Independence out loud. You may realize that a few of the grievances the founders had with England sound familiar.

You can still eat some great food, shoot off some fireworks, even stage a little parade with some decorated bikes the kids decorate. But take a little time to rediscover the principles that created America and determine it is not too late for God to bless America.

Pastor Paul Holt
First Baptist Church of Magdalena, NM
http://www.fbcmagdalena.comhttp://www.thebiblefactor.com

 

Taking a Stand, We are Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

From time to time is important to take a stand, even if that stand is unpopular and categorized as hateful or bigoted. That is what we are doing as the body of Christ in churches across America.

The judicial system from the New Mexico Supreme Court to the United States Supreme Court have taken it upon themselves to create a new protected class of citizen. According to the mindset of our local and national jurors this new class supersedes the constitution of the United States and its bill of rights. Effectively, the courts have removed by judicial fiat the rule of law under the constitution.

In other words, there is no longer available to the citizens of the United States the guarantee of liberty, specifically the freedom of speech or religion. These rights are now subject to the whim of the government. Should an unelected government official determine that speech or action is not acceptable, Americans can no longer appeal to the binding power of the constitution because it no longer is bound to us.

To be clear, this was a choice made by the people of the United States whether actively or passively, it was their choice. The election of presidents both Republican and Democrat were choices, the election of legislators and governors leading to the appointment of judges who hold ideology over law and order were all choices.

The normalization of sexual immorality of various types, gradual as it may have been, including no fault divorce led to this point in time. When liberty failed and we could no longer keep our constitutional government.

It is with a heavy heart that we have arrived at such a time as this and that we the members of First Baptist Church of Magdalena with Paul Holt as their pastor must make a stand, a stand for Jesus Christ. We are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we will not bend our knee to the idol of humanism and sexual immorality. We will still love all people whom the Lord created but we will not condone sin. We will still be ambassadors for Jesus, preaching that all may be reconciled to God by His grace but there is a call to repentance that must be obeyed.

Let it be known that all people regardless of classification are welcome in our church regardless of the sins you bear. However, I, Pastor Paul Holt, will not be perform same sex weddings and First Baptist Church of Magdalena has voted it’s agreement. We will uphold the teachings of God’s Holy Word that in the beginning God created male and female and that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall be one flesh.

On Sunday, June 28th as you will hear during the above recorded sermon, the church voted to agree with Pastor Paul Holt in this refusal. The church and Pastor Holt are willing to accept what consequences that result from this resolution to stand with Christ and identify with His suffering, death and resurrection.

Having so resolved, the people of FBC Magdalena honored Jesus Christ by baptizing our dear sister Sandra as we remembered that to deny our Lord before men means that He will deny us before the Father. May we continue to stand together and walk with the Lord faithfully during these trying days.

Amen

Pastor Paul Holt
First Baptist Church of Magdalena, NM