Christmas, Mailbag, Parenting

The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids (and grandkids) about Santa Claus?

Originally published December 4, 2017

As Christian parents, is it OK for us to tell our children about Santa Claus?

Christmastime can be so much fun when you have children. Many of us remember the excitement of Santa, the Christmas tree, and presents from our own childhood. They’re happy memories, and we want to recreate those for our children.

But as Christian parents, our first priority isn’t fun, it’s obedience to Scripture. Yet is there a way to make Christmas merry for our children while still upholding God’s Word? Is Santa patently unbiblical?

No, he doesn’t have to be, as long as he keeps his sleigh parked inside the parameters of Scripture. Let’s take a look at some of the ways Santa can be unscripturally naughty, and how godly parents can keep him nice and biblical.

Santa Claus isn’t real. If you tell your children he is, or that he is the one who brings their presents, or that he knows whether they’ve been naughty or nice, you’re lying. The Bible says that lying is a sin, period. There’s no exception for jolly old elves who pass out toys (or for tooth fairies or Easter bunnies, either, for that matter). And not only is lying a sin, it is extraordinarily hypocritical to lie to your children about Santa Claus and then turn around later and punish them when they lie about something. Lying to your children about Santa Claus teaches them that it’s OK to lie (i.e. sin) when you want to or when it would be to your advantage.

Don’t lie to your children about Santa Claus. Tell them the truth: he’s a fun, fictional character that we can enjoy reading stories and singing songs about, just like Goldilocks or Superman or Old MacDonald. As for the presents, maybe you’d like to handle it similarly to the way my husband and I did with our children. When they were very small, my husband or I would don a Santa hat on Christmas Eve and say something like: “You know how you like to play pretend? Well, mommies and daddies like to play pretend, too, especially at Christmas! Now it’s time for you to go to bed so we can pretend to be Santa Claus.”

Santa Claus isn’t omniscient. 

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!¹

Uh uh. No way. Omniscience is an incommunicable attribute of God. He is the only One who has the power to see and know all things, and it is an insult and an affront to Him to even suggest that a mere mortal – let alone a fictional character – has the same power and knowledge that He has. In reverence and awe for God’s preeminence, we should never ascribe to others the things that belong to God alone.

Teach your children about the attributes of God. When you read your children stories about Santa Claus or hear Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town on the radio, it’s a perfect opportunity to teach them about God’s omniscience and power. “Did y’all just hear that? That song said Santa Claus can see you and knows how you’re behaving. Is that true? Who is the only One who always sees you, cares for you, and knows what you’re doing and thinking? Can anybody else besides God do that?”

Santa Claus teaches works righteousness. In St. Nick’s economy, good behavior earns a reward (presents). Bad behavior earns punishment (coal). If you’ve ever shared the gospel with anybody, that will probably sound familiar. Most lost people think that’s what Christianity is. If you’re a “good person” God is happy with you and you’ll go to Heaven. Hell is the punishment for “bad people”: Hitler, murderers, and rapists. This is not what the Bible teaches, either about salvation, or about why children should obey their parents.

Teach your children the gospel. Again, this whole “naughty or nice” part of the Santa Claus narrative is a perfect gospel-teaching opportunity. Take advantage of it! Ask your child to be “nice” for one whole day. At bed time, take a few minutes to talk about the times she messed up and was “naughty” when she was supposed to be trying to be “nice.” Nobody can be nice and obedient all the time, no matter how hard we try. We are all naughty, coal black sinners deserving the punishment of Hell. Jesus came and lived a life of perfect “niceness” (obedience), died on the cross to take the punishment for our naughtiness, was buried, and rose again. He did that, not because we earned it with good behavior, but because of His mercy and grace. And then He gave us the greatest gift ever. A gift we naughty people don’t deserve: salvation and eternal life in Heaven. And it is because of our love and gratitude to Christ for saving us that we obey Him, not so that He will give us what we want. Indeed, the Bible tells us that the more obedient to Christ we are, the more persecution we will face.

Santa Claus doesn’t automatically have to be on the Christian parent’s naughty list. There are lots of ways to enjoy the fun of Santa and even turn him into an opportunity to teach your child biblical truth, all while being obedient to Scripture. But if Santa makes you biblically uncomfortable in some way, then by all means, don’t go against your conscience. Whichever way you decide – after prayer, study of the Scriptures, and discussing it with your spouse – do not judge other Christian parents by your personal convictions about Santa Claus.

Any advice for grandparents about Santa? Our son wants our grandchildren to believe in Santa. How do we respond to a grandchild who asks of the reality of Santa? I will not lie, but I want to keep peace with my son.

Thank you for being a godly grandma!

I think the solution to this dilemma is going to start with being a godly mom. Is your son a Believer? If so, you might want to show him all of the information above and talk to him about any Scriptures he’s violating. Let’s pray that will be convicting to him and he’ll decide to handle Santa in a godly way with your grandchildren.

But if he’s not convinced, or if he’s not a Believer, talk to him about your convictions about not lying to his children. Explain the difficult position he’s putting you in. He’s essentially asking you to choose between pleasing him by sinning (lying) or pleasing God by not sinning.

If he still won’t relent, the only solution I can see that keeps you from sinning yet doesn’t go against your son’s wishes is to put it back on him. When your grandchild comes to you and asks, “Grandma, is Santa Claus real?” you reply, “That’s a great question, but I think you should ask your mom and dad about that. How about some hot chocolate?”.

Your son made this bed. You shouldn’t have to lie in it.

Additional Resources:

Santa Pause with Justin Peters at A Word Fitly Spoken

¹Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town. John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie, 1934.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Holidays (Other), Mailbag, Thanks/Thanksgiving

The Mailbag: Teaching Children Gratefulness

Do you know like of any Biblically sound books that will help teach a 3 yr old how to have a grateful heart? My daughter is trying to cultivate that in my 3 yr old grandson.

Awww, how sweet! What a blessing that he has a godly mommy and Grammy (or Mimi or Mamaw or…).

My youngest child is 18 so I’m not familiar with whatever is currently popular and available, although I’m sure there are some good, doctrinally sound children’s books out there. (Readers, if you have any suggestions, let this sister know in the comments.)

But if you’ll indulge me a trip down memory lane to wallow in sentimentality for just a moment, this was my daughter’s favorite book when she was a toddler (and all her little brothers loved it too!). It combines counting skills, thankfulness, and a hymn – pretty great, if you ask me!

Count Your Blessings by Donna D. Cooner, 1995

Now, it’s just sitting in my closet waiting for some grandchildren to come along…

If you decide to buy some toddler books on gratitude, I would just caution you to vet the authors of any book you’re considering just like you would vet the author of a book for adults. There are many false teachersPriscilla Shirer, Sarah Young, and Sheila Walsh just to name a few off the top of my head – who have branched out into writing children’s books.

But honestly, I think this is a great opportunity for you and your daughter to start teaching your grandson the Bible, Scripture memory, and prayer as it relates to being grateful to God.

Read some stories about people in the Bible who were thankful – the thankful leper, Zacchaeus, Noah, Daniel, rebuilding the temple…really any story in which God acts, provides, or protects and people thank Him for it – and ask a few simple questions. What did the main character in the story need or ask God for? What did God do? What did the main character say or do when God acted, provided, or protected? Has God ever acted, provided for, or protected you like that? How can we tell Him thank you?

Grab your concordance and look up some words and phrases like “give thanks“. Find a simple verse(s), talk about what it means, and practice saying it together. You might be surprised at just how quickly he can memorize those verses! The Bible verse memes in my article Top 10 Bible Verses on Giving Thanks are perfect for printing out or copying to your phone or tablet for this.

Another way to reinforce giving thanks to God is through music. You may find something helpful at Seeds Family Worship, or just create your own playlist on your favorite music platform.

One way I helped my children remember to be thankful (and let me tell you, it didn’t just help my children!) was with a simple little game I called The Gratitude Game. It’s kind of like playing “I Spy.” Just look out the window when you’re driving around in the car, or look around as you’re taking a walk, and take turns thanking God for what you see: “Thank You, God, for making birds.” “Thank You for ice cream.” “Thank You for police officers who help us.”

Books can be fun and helpful, and I hope you find a good one for your little sweetie, but you can’t beat stories and activities that center on Scripture itself.

If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 18- Wrap Up

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Wrap Up

Questions to Consider

1. Was there anything new God taught you in this study that particularly impacted you? What was it, and why was it so significant?

2. How is your walk with the Lord different after this study than it was before?

3. What are the reasons for, and the consequences of, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”? What are the implications of this mindset and posture of heart for God’s people, both individually and as the church, today?

4. What did you learn about idolatry and syncretism from this study, and how can you apply this to the church and Christian organizations?

5. What did this study teach you about trusting and obeying God?

6. Have there been any passages or concepts in this study that God used to convict you of disobedience and lead you to repentance? How will you walk differently in this area from now on?

7. What did this study teach you about the character of those who lead God’s people?

8. What have you learned about God and His nature and character from this study?


Spend some time in prayer this week asking God to show you how to put into practice one thing you learned from this study.

Recite all of your memory verses from this study. Which one is most meaningful to you right now?

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Walk in the Word Conference

I had a such a wonderful time at the Walk in the Word women’s conference at New Prospect Baptist Church, sharing with the ladies of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, and many from the surrounding areas.

A few shots of the scenery. Lawrenceburg is a charming town – exactly the size I’d want to live in if given the choice and if I had to move.

NPBC put me up in a very nice, new hotel. Getting settled in, this is the sign that greeted me as I exited the elevator and started searching for my room. It cracked me up every time I saw it, so I thought I’d share it. Maybe I’m missing something (perhaps a degree in calculus, engineering, or metaphysics?), but I don’t see the logic here. Do you?

After I arrived Thursday night, Kendra, Charissa, and Donna fed me well at the wonderful Brass Lantern restaurant, where I just fell in love with Johnny’s Famous Fruit Tea. Fruit tea is a regional favorite in Middle Tennessee – sweet tea with pineapple juice, orange juice, and lemonade (move over, Arnold Palmer!). Here, I found a recipe for you if you’d like to try it.

Friday’s events started with a lunch date with NPBC’s pastors’ wives at Strikers Steakhouse, and possibly the best salad with grilled chicken I’ve ever eaten. It was so great to chat with other sisters in Christ about parenting, church, women’s ministry, and other issues dear to our hearts.

Friday night, we got things underway with session 1 on biblical womanhood, Rock Your Role at Home and at Church. It was encouraging to explore the beauty and value in God’s Creative design for women and the roles He has set aside for us.

Pre- and post-conference fellowship, door prizes,
and beautiful autumn decorations.

After a fun break for fellowship and desserts, came our second session, Suffering. Everybody goes through suffering at some point. The Bible teaches us to look to Jesus, the hero of our suffering, so we can take hope in our suffering, and biblically handle our suffering.

Each of the four sessions started off with worship music from these lovely ladies. Three part harmony? Yes, please. It was obvious that they worked hard in preparation to present a fragrant offering to the Lord in song.

Saturday morning’s first session was Practical Holiness. What does it mean to pursue holiness? In this session we took a look at how the Bible defines holiness and how to practice holiness in our daily lives.

And after a delicious lunch of grilled chicken, veggies, and absolutely heavenly cheesecake, was our final session, Hooked on a Feeling. Are you living life according to your feelings and emotions? This session was all about biblical and practical ways to live according to God’s Word instead.

These were both from Hooked on a Feeling. On the left is a quote from the session made into a meme by one of the sweet ladies who attended. On the right is a screenshot of notes taken by Chloe – a darling 9 year old young lady. In case your eyes are as old as mine, it says, “God is not a bad master. He is a just and true and kind master.” Chloe, you are a good listener, and I love your tepee! (I sometimes doodle while I’m taking notes, too. It helps me think. :0)

Throughout the conference, attendees had the opportunity to support Hope Haven, “a Christ-centered ministry offering life-affirming services to women and teens who are facing an unplanned pregnancy crisis.” Women were invited to take a baby bottle home and fill it – not with formula, but with funding, to help this wonderful ministry. I thought this was a super idea for a women’s conference. Maybe you’d like to try it at your next women’s event.

Many thanks to Charissa, Kendra and Dave, Donna, Cheryl, and all of the ladies and gentlemen of New Prospect Baptist Church who worked so hard to make Walk in the Word a great conference, took care of all my needs, and made me feel so welcome. If you’re ever in the Lawrenceburg area, be sure to stop in to NPBC for a visit!

If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.

Photo Credits

Restaurant photos courtesy of each respective restaurant.

Of the remaining photos, about half were taken by me (Michelle Lesley) and half by Charissa Kilburn or one of the other ladies at the conference. They got so mixed up, I’m not sure which are which. Just assume if it’s a good picture, I didn’t take it. :0) They are all used by permission.

Judges Bible Study

Judges ~ Lesson 17

Don’t forget to come back next week for our wrap up lesson!

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Read Judges 21

Questions to Consider

1. Go back to lesson 3 (link above) and review your answer to the first part of question 5, Israel’s pattern of sin and repentance in 2:16-23. How does today’s passage fit this pattern? How does today’s passage fit the theme verse of Judges (21:25), “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”?

2. Chapter 21 is a continuation of the story that began in chapter 19. Briefly review lessons 15 & 16 (links above) to refresh your memory.

3. Read all of chapter 21.

4. Explain 1-15 in your own words. What is taking place in this passage? What transpired at Mizpah (1,18)? (hint: use your cross references) Why was there “one tribe lacking in Israel”? (3,6) Which tribe was it, and why was it “lacking”? (3,6, chapter 20) If there were no Benjaminite women left for the Benjaminite men to marry and none of the other Israelite tribes would give their daughters to the Benjaminite men for wives (7), what would have happened to Benjamin as a tribe? Why was it imperative that the Benjaminite men marry women from among the tribes of Israel? Why couldn’t they just marry a woman from a neighboring country?

5. In the law, God explained why He didn’t want Israel marrying foreign wives. What was His reason? Think about all the idolatry we’ve seen in the book of Judges. Which seemed to be more important to Israel in chapter 21, the letter of the law (the outward behavior of not marrying foreign wives), or the heart of the law (the inward heart condition of loving God and rejecting idolatry)?

Recall Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard it said that [letter of the law], but I say to you [heart of the law].” Was Jesus saying that obedience in our external behavior – such as (for the Israelites) obeying the command not to marry foreign wives – wasn’t important? Where does our outward obedience flow from? From God’s perspective (a perspective we should attain to), is mere outward, behavioral conformity to the law true obedience to Him?

Compare the Old Testament’s prohibition on God’s people marrying unbelievers to the New Testament’s prohibition on God’s people marrying (or closely yoking with) unbelievers.

6. We live in a very individualistic society. Old Testament Israel was a very corporate society. How does this impact and explain Israel’s grief and compassion (2,3,6,15) over the potential loss of the tribe of Benjamin, even though they had recently been at war with, and killing, the Benjaminites?

Compare the Old Testament corporate perspective in this passage with the New Testament corporate perspective of the church in 1 Corinthians 12. Make the connection between Judges 21:2,3,6,15 and 1 Corinthians 12:26. Why did God design His people to be interdependent – to need each other?

7. Explain in your own words what is happening in verses 16-25. What does verse 22 mean?

Did telling and allowing the Benjaminites to snatch the women (22) let Israel and Shiloh off the hook for the vow (18) since they weren’t technically “giving our daughters to them”? Were they truly keeping the vow, or was this yet another letter of the law versus heart of the law situation? What about the laws against coveting and stealing – were those laws being kept or broken in this situation?

When it comes to sin, does God ever let people off on a technicality? Is someone who looks for loopholes in God’s commands a person whose obedience is motivated by her love for the Lord, or someone who loves sin and wants to “get away with” as much of it as possible? Do you ever play games like this with God’s commands?

8. Do you notice anything in chapter 21 indicating that God instructed Israel to do any of the things they did, or that He approved of any of these things? Did Israel inquire of the Lord about the lack of wives for the Benjaminite men, or did they take matters into their own hands? Think about how Sarai took matters into her own hands to have a son, when God’s plan was for Him to provide her with a son. Could not the same God who miraculously provided an offspring for Abraham have also miraculously provided wives for Benjamin? How does taking matters into our own hands, especially by sinning, a) demonstrate a lack of trust in God and His ways, and b) never turn out as well as trusting God and His ways does?

9. How would you respond to this statement? “Living by doing what is right in your own eyes (25) gives you an inconsistent spiritual framework that puts you in the position of looking in moral indignation upon one sin while committing another to ‘correct’ it.”

Compare verse 4 to verse 25. Do our outward actions of worship (4) mean anything if our hearts aren’t right with God (25)?


Review your answers to question 5, above. Are there any areas of your life in which you are being externally, behaviorally obedient to God, but that outward conformity to the requirements of Scripture isn’t motivated by love for God or the heart of the law?

For example: Do you give your offerings or attend church reluctantly or resentfully rather than giving generously and cheerfully, or attending eagerly because you love the Lord and His people?

Think it over and repent of any areas in which your obedience is not a natural outflow of your heart. Choose one of these areas, and over the next week, do a deep dive into the Word on that particular issue. Why does God want you to do or not do that behavior? What should be the posture of your heart that leads to outward obedience on that issue? Ask God to change your heart so your outward behavior will be rightly motivated and will be a joy rather than a burden.

Suggested Memory Verse