Naughty Girls, God Is Not Our “Santa Baby”

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Making Santa Happy

It’s the tried and true Christmas song that will be making its way through our speakers this holiday season – “Santa Baby.” We love it and just can’t get enough of it. It seems as though every artist from Taylor Swift to Madonna wants a turn to flirt with Santa. He’s an old man wearing a red jumpsuit, furry boots, eats way too many cookies, and has a record for breaking and entering . . . but hey, to each her own.

“Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree for me; been an awful good girl, Santa baby, so hurry down the chimney tonight.”

As we sit on Santa’s lap he will ask, “Have you been a good girl?”

We bat our eyes and strut our stuff as we, “think of all the fun we missed, the fellas we haven’t kissed,” and we show Santa that we’ve, “been an awful good girl.”

Some of the things on our list of “good girl” activities might include:

Going to church.

Had a “quiet time” most days.

Family worship with the kids.

Doing an advent calendar during Christmas.

Gave some clothes to the homeless shelter.

Keeping a tidy house.

Oh, and we even did a Christmas art project with the kids with real glue, scissors, and glitter . . . it was a huge mess too!

And then, of course, we have to list all of the activities we abstained from – you know, the “sacrifices” we have made (one less show a week on Netflix, a few less trips to TJ Maxx, etc.).

Santa, look at me! I’ve “been good for goodness sake!”

God Cannot Be Seduced By Our Good Deeds.

Often, we wrongly tend to put God in the same category as Santa. If I am really good this year, then God owes me something (happiness, joy, blessings, forgiveness, etc.). Yet the Scriptures teach us that God owes us nothing. In fact, if God owes us anything, it’s simply punishment and spiritual death for our sins. Because of our sin against God, we don’t deserve heaven and God’s blessing, but we deserve eternal separation from Him (Romans 6:23).

God is not “making a list and checking it twice” to find out “who’s naughty and nice.”

There is no need to make a new list, because the Bible tells us that by default, everyone is on the naughty list. “There is none that is righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10). There are no “good girls.” When we hold up our list of good deeds in effort to impress God, it is like holding up a bloody tampon (Isaiah 64:6). Sick!!!

Regardless of how extensive and thorough our righteous “list” is that we present to God, He remains thoroughly unimpressed. He takes our list and throws it in the fire. No amount of flirting will win His approval. He will not be seduced with our imaginary goodness. No amount of zeal, performance, or effort can match the standard that He requires – perfect righteousness (Matthew 5:20, 48).

Oh, apparently, Santa “sees you when you are sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good…” I hate to be a scrooge but Santa just doesn’t have that kind of power. Santa is not all knowing.

God knows ALL things! He sees straight through all of the “pretty” exterior right into our ugly hearts. He knows our every desire and thought! My thoughts have the potential to scare the ‘Jingle Bells’ out of Old Saint Nick!!! God is not surprised by our sin, this is why He came.

“You better watch out; you better not cry: Better not pout I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.”

Jesus came to town once already, and He is coming again. Why did He come? He came for the “pouters” and “criers.” He came for the weak, broken, frail, needy, and sinful. Unlike Santa, He did not come for the “good boys and girls;” after all, there were none to be found. He came for those of us on the naughty list.

None of us were good boys and girls who left milk and cookies for Jesus; the only thing we left for Jesus was the very sin that nailed Him to a cross. Jesus doesn’t want your milk and cookies, He wants your heart. Jesus didn’t come down a chimney wearing a red suit because we’d been so good; He went up to a cross – covered in red blood -because we’d been so bad.

So this Christmas, let’s not bat our eyes while seeking to show God our superficial goodness. Instead, let’s empty ourselves of the pride and self-righteousness, so that we can be filled with the greatest gift of all – the love Jesus Christ.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!

**For the record, I didn’t pull out the word “tampon” just for shock factor. In the original Hebrew text of Isaiah 64:6, the word “filthy rag” (used to refer to our righteous deeds) would have been something like the equivalent of the cloth a woman used on her menstrual cycle. Needless to say, when God inspired Isaiah to write this, He wanted to make His point – there is no good deed that we can do in and of ourselves that can impress God. After all, His standard is perfection.

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Nice Try Jesus, But I’m King In This Town

The gospel, God’s final word, was put on display not on thrones or in seats of power, but on straw and the dirt of the earth.  It was not illuminated by flashing neon signs and billboards, but by the stars of the sky and the brilliance they shone forth.

Therein Lies the Problem

Fast-forward thirty years. Jesus carried out his public ministry and time on this earth not with a scepter and a robe but with a staff and a cloak. Yet, he proclaimed Kingship. He proclaimed his Lordship. “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’ ” (John 4:25-26). Jesus was not spouting some arrogant notion of himself. Jesus, sent by God, was speaking the truth. That truth changed everything. That truth melted hearts and transformed lives. That truth turned over money changing tables and sent religious leaders scheming. “And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him” (Luke 19:47). In fact, “the Chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death” (Mathew 26:59).
The Chief Priests and the Council Were Not the First to Cry Out “Crucify Him”
When the gospel broke forth out of the womb of a young virgin, the violence began: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born” (Matthew 2:1-4)…”Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16). Even as Christ, the newborn King, lay in a dirty manger, murder was taking place in the heart of the king and in the hearts of the kings’ people. You can almost hear them say what would be said thirty years later at Jesus’ “trial”: “The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God” (John 19:7). Herod was troubled by only one piece of news – Another had come, and he was King, and there was only one way to deal with him – kill him. In essence, Herod was saying, “Nice try Jesus, but I’m King in this town.” Soon, his troubled soul would move from murder to mass murder. Tricked by the three wise men he became enraged and called for the brutal killing of all male babies under the age of two.
I Am King Too
I have read this story many times and each time I’ve been horrified at the thought of not just murder, but mass murder. How could he? What kind of power hungry, throne protecting monster would act like that? Then, I am reminded of the very words Jesus spoke, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22). Jesus equated anger with murder, driving home the point that even though you look good on the outside (not running around literally killing people), your heart is just as wicked. How easy it is for me to smile, all the while murdering in my heart and slicing and dicing the motives of others. Just as Herods’ anger ratcheted up when others didn’t do what he wanted, my anger flares too. It may be mild at first, but the more I process it and think on it and imagine all that I imagine, my heat rises. I have already murdered you, but now I’m thinking about how I can murder you again, and anyone else in my path. I have no desire to let Jesus be King and rule in my heart in those moments. I want to be King. I dethrone Jesus, crawl up into that seat and shout like Herod; “Nice try Jesus, but I’m King in this town.” I’m running this show and I’ll be making the decisions from now on, thank you very much.
A Stronger King Flexes Grace Not Muscles
But, there is a whisper. The whisper of One who is Strong. And he came not to sit on a throne of power, but to lay in a manger set upon the dirt of this earth. He came as a paradox to everything the world believed. He not only turned tables upside down, he turned everything upside down. The poor became rich. The last became first. Sinners were saved and the self-righteous cast out. Everything they knew about how the world should operate was null and void now. Jesus came and His Kingdom was not of this world. While the Pharisees, the world, and you and I, try flexing our religious, intellectual and power filled muscles, Jesus takes one look and says what he said to Zacchaeus, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today…to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19).
He invites us to come down off our perch, to step down from our high horse – not with condemnation, but with love. He seeks us out and comes not to let us have it, but to let us have Him. His strength looks like weakness to the world, but it’s more powerful than any power in all of heaven and earth. Powerful enough to dethrone us. A Love so powerful as to melt a human heart. God sent Jesus into this world to rescue the weak who think they have power. Herod said, “Search for the child and destroy him”, but God whispered, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” Herod (and you and I) speak words of death and violence, and God speaks words of Life and Rescue. God sent his son, King Jesus, not so that we could stay perched on our puny and frail thrones, but to rescue us from them. To set us free from our brokenness, rebellion and self-righteousness. Not because we were worthy of the rescue, but because of the very fact that we weren’t. We scheme and we plot and we run, but Grace squashes schemes, overturns plots and runs faster, and thankfully, wrestles our glory story to the ground. There is no more vivid illustration of God’s power made perfect in weakness than his gospel being sent forth in the form of a human baby, yet, King.
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By Lori Harding
Lori is the Director of Care Ministries and Women’s Support at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL, where she oversees Women’s Ministries and coordinates Care Ministry programs and resources.  Lori speaks to women of all ages at retreats and conferences.  She blogs at Set Free.  Thankful to have her sharing over here today!

The War On Christmas

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“KEVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

It’s the ear-deafening shrill of a mother realizing her 6-year old is home alone while she is on an airplane almost to Paris.   We can only imagine the feelings of desperation and horror this mother felt.

AHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

What living person doesn’t t know the trademark “hands slapping their face” in only the way Macaulay Culkin can pull it off?

Home Alone, the classic Christmas movie, will make its way through the TV Guide Christmas time slots, along with ElfWhite Christmas, The Christmas Story, and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

My son and husband love Home Alone, so inevitably I will sit and watch as my son takes notes from Kevin on how to wreak havoc on his siblings.

All of us watching have hearts aching for Kevin to be reunited at Christmas.  Young and old know Christmas is about being together – not home alone.  A lonely Christmas is no Christmas at all.

This reminds me of another Son, a Son that would leave His home in heaven.  His first Christmas would be celebrated in the arms of a 15-year old virgin, surrounded by animals.  In some ways, it was a silent night.  His father was not screaming, freaking out, going ballistic in the background worrying about the safe arrival of His pride and joy.  In fact, the idea of this Son leaving His home had been planned from the very beginning of time. No shock, no worries.  This Father and Son had a plan – a rescue mission.

Days after watching this iconic blockbuster, there is a theme song stuck in my head and I am sure yours too – Carol of the Bells.  What is most annoying about thing about this song is that I don’t have all the words memorized, so my family gets to hear new and exciting renditions each and every year.

Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells,

All seem to say throw cares away.

We tend to get caught up in the hypnotizing trance of the sweet silver bells.  We envision ourselves on a sleigh ride, strapped down, desperately searching for the “Magic of Christmas.” We become consumed in drinking our eggnog, eating figgy pudding, shopping, catching sales, cyber sales, wanting, wrapping, thinking of warm fuzzies from yester years, holly and being jolly, hanging our stocking with care, sugar plums dancing in our heads, waiting for the big guy in red velvet apple bottom jeans (boots with the fur), chestnuts roasting by the fire, Jack Frost nipping at our nose, caroling, cleaning, food, friends, more food, and family.  It’s like the Carol of the Bells on replay the entire Christmas season!  We just get caught up in the frantic, crazy nostalgia hunt.

As much as we want to “throw cares away,” we just cannot seem to stop “making our lists and checking them twice.”  Where is the “comfort and joy?”  We desperately want to have ourselves a “Merry little Christmas and let our hearts be light!”

Then, of course, we talk about sweet baby Jesus. “Oh there He is . . .” We see Him lying in the manger and we tend to think of “poor, sweet Jesus.”  He is so cute in that little swaddling cloth. It’s as if the world is saying “goochie goo!”

This is War

Kevin was left home alone. Chances are he was not going to have a warm fuzzy Christmas because Kevin knew the burglars (the “Wet Bandits,” if you’ll remember) were heading his way.  As he sat down with his back to his front door with a bee-bee gun strapped to his chest, he exclaimed, “This is it, don’t get scared now.” For Kevin, it was a declaration of war.

When we think of Christmas, the picture of war portrayed in Home Alone may in a sense be more accurate than some of the cute, blissful, peaceful images that we have in our minds.  Jesus left the comforts of heaven not to look for a sale at Macy’s, but to fight a war.   His first cry as a tiny baby was a war-cry (without the silver bells in the background).

A war against what? A war against the captor – Satan.  Satan and sin hold God’s people captive as though they were a burglar holding a house hostage that does not belong to them.  God came to the earth to set the captives free.  He may have been wearing a cute “little swaddling cloth,” but He came as a conquering, warrior King.

No, He did not set up booby traps, or window seals laced with tar and nail heads. He did not come with a plan to knock this thief in the head with a hot iron.  However, He did come to crush the head of the Enemy, but He came to do so with His own blood.

There has always been a war against Christmas, because there has been a war against Christ.  From the moment He was born (and even before), people wanted Jesus dead.  King Herod, yeah he wasn’t searching for Jesus so He could present him with an outlandish baby shower; no he wanted Christ dead.  Why? Herod wanted to be King and he did not want to bow the knee to some nursing infant.   Christmas is about worshipping the King, and yet we war against it as we listen to the voice of the serpent and “take the apple,” so that we may become kings ourselves.

Satan hates Christmas because Christmas is a celebration of Jesus.  Every time the serpent hears the Christmas story, He is reminded of the prophesy spoken to him by God in Gen 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He (Jesus) will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

The initial blow to that puny little head has already been struck, and the war has been won.  Though we still find ourselves in a battle doing war with this snake-turned-lion seeking to devour us, we are longing for the return of King Jesus where He will destroy this Enemy once and for all as He casts him into the lake of fire forever.  So, as we celebrate Jesus at Christmas, we are not just celebrating his arrival, but we are celebrating the fact that He defeated Satan at the cross, and that He is coming AGAIN!

It’s like when the burglar hears, “Johnny Gangster in the shower.”

“I’m gonna give you to the count of 10 to get your ugly no good keister off my property . . . before I pump your guts full of lead . . . (gun shots) . . . keep the change ya filthy animal.”

This Christmas I am in a war to keep my eyes on Christ

There are so many little silver bells that put me into a trance.  So many flashy-sparkly-shiny trinkets and bright lights that keep me from beholding the true beauty of Christmas – the LIGHT of the world.

The North Star shown down on Bethlehem like a spotlight saying, “He is here!  Your Rescuer has come! Look! See! Over here!”

Instead of looking for the “magic” of Christmas, I should be consumed with the mystery of Christmas.

This is a mystery and a miracle:

Christ left the comforts of heaven so that we might know true “comfort and joy.” 

Because Christ came to carry the weight of all out sin, we can have ourselves a “Merry Little Christmas” and let our hearts “Be Light”.

When your heart is being pulled in by all the lights, look to the Light of the world that would die on a cross – forsaken and abandoned by His own Father. Christ had only known the stare of affection from His Father.  But for you, He took all of His Father’s wrath and hung there alone so you would never have to experience the righteous judgment of God.  Christmas is a call to war – a war that has already been won.  Christmas is about a family being together.  Christmas is about God coming to rescue His family so they would never again have to be home alone.   Twitter