James 5:12 (Devotional Thought)

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But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation. (James 5:12 ESV)

Have you ever made a promise while crossing your fingers or made an oath to a friend and said, “cross my heart and hope to die”? Those are things I used to do as a little kid. You would cross your fingers when you knew you were going to break your promise (somehow that made it okay to do) and you swore on your life (that’s crossing your heart and hoping to die) when you wanted someone to believe your promise.

People swear or “promise” based on something. They might say, “I swear as sure as I’m standing here” or “I swear on my momma’s grave.” While those are weird things to swear by they reveal something about the person who is swearing…. They normally lie. If people won’t believe what you say, it’s probably because you crossed your fingers one too many times and they are reluctant to trust you. James says that you are not to swear or promise by anything, rather just speak the truth.

Lying is what we do when we don’t trust God. Swearing is what we do when we’ve lied so many times that people won’t believe us… James reminds us not to cross our fingers or swear by anything because someone who trusts God has no reason to lie.

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Why Doesn’t Santa Claus Come to Pensacola?

I’m really kind of passive on the whole Santa issue.  Though we have chosen to emphasize the birth of Jesus and to not teach our kids about Santa Claus . It’s not a big deal kind of thing for us.  If you teach your kids that Santa is real and put extra gifts under the tree it’s not going to ruin my Christmas.

My daughter has always been told that Santa Claus does not exist, but some people pretend that he exists.  She still gets a pile of gifts under the tree, but they come from us and her grandparents.

It really hasn’t been a big dilemma until this year.  This year she is a little wiser.  She knows a little more.  She is 3 years old and will soon be 4.  Now for the first time, and certainly not the last, she recognizes that not everyone is like us.  She has been surrounded by the Santa story this year.  We have watched a few movies as a family about Santa (all the while talking about how its fun to tell stories about Santa, but he is not real), many of our neighbors have Santa themed decorations and some of the other adults in her life (teachers, etc.) have been talking with her about what kind of presents she will get from Santa this year.

She knows what she has been taught by her parents but to a 3 almost 4-year-old there appears to be an overwhelming amount of evidence that Santa exists.  So the other day she asked a question that took me by surprise.  She said, “Daddy, why doesn’t Santa come to Pensacola?”

She had put the evidence together.  Santa was on TV, Santa was on display in our neighborhood, Santa was talked about even by the adults at church, so Santa must be real.  So we told her again that lots of adults like to pretend that there is a Santa Claus and many children believe that he really exists, but that we had promised her before she was born that we would always be a source of truth for her and we would never intentionally mislead her.

In fact one of our core principals and my prayer for her every night is that she would be able to distinguish the truth from a lie.  Over the course of a few conversations the whole Santa issue becomes a great teaching lesson on being able to trust the teaching she was entrusted to and make wise decisions.  I thank God for it and am getting geared up for the next time we have an opportunity to drive home the importance of knowing the truth.

So then her next question pops up. “Are the people who pretend about Santa bad people?” She asks.  Because, you see, the only other picture she has in her little world view right now is that a long time ago a snake in a garden deceived Adam and Eve into believing a lie and that is how sin entered the world.  She also knows that she will be punished if she lies to us.  Her natural conclusion is that people who “lie” or, deceive others into believing something that is not true, are bad people.

Part of me is cheering her on, because I know she has a solid grasp on the story of the fall.  The other part of me is looking for a way to explain why people would pretend in Santa and take delight in getting others to believe he is real.  It’s a difficult positions to be in.  There really isn’t riding the fence on this one.  I either have to lie to her and say that these people are truly misguided (they don’t know that they are deceiving others) or tell her that some of the adults that she looks up to, do bad things just like the rest of us and that is the real meaning of Christmas, Jesus came to be born of a virgin, live a perfect life, die on the cross for our sins, be raised from the dead, and will return for us.  I went with the second option.

What about you?  What do you think about the whole Santa deal?

1.)Is it okay to teach your kids about Santa?

2.)Is it deception to tell your kids that Santa is Real?

3.) Is it ever okay to lie to your kids?