Bible Study, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Potpourri (Sentence diagram Bible study, Evangelism, Making teens attend church, Female pro-life speaker…)

Welcome to another “potpourri” edition of The Mailbag, where I give short(er) answers to several questions rather than a long answer to one question.

I like to take the opportunity in these potpourri editions to let new readers know about my comments/e-mail/messages policy. I’m not able to respond individually to most e-mails and messages, so here are some helpful hints for getting your questions answered more quickly. Remember, the search bar (at the very bottom of each page) can be a helpful tool!

Or maybe I answered your question already? Check out my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs to see if your question has been answered and to get some helpful resources.


So it is by way of this email that I ask you to pray about my request to disciple me as a young woman in accordance to Titus 2.

You are so dear, and your e-mail was so sweet. I would love to say yes, but sadly, I cannot. Please see #10 in my article The Mailbag: Top 10 FAQs.


I would love your thoughts on the study of Scripture using the sentence diagram method. I have never tried it but it does look interesting. However I do not want to get into a mess of confusion.

If reading the phrase “the sentence diagram method” just gave you a fond or traumatic flashback to 7th grade English class, then you pretty much already know what it is. It’s taking a Bible verse and diagramming it – either grammatically (with all the little lines for adverbs and adjectives and conjunctions and whatnot), or conceptually (blocking it out according to concept and how those concepts connect.

If you’d like to see an example, click here. (FYI- This link does not mean I’m recommending this site. She endorses and/or has connections to several false teachers.)

If you’re a grammar nerd or language aficionado like I am, this is method is probably right up your alley, and if you need to employ it from time to time to better understand one of Paul’s numerous lengthy run-on sentences, then go for it!

My only counsel would be, don’t make this your only method of Bible study. For the most part, you need to be reading and studying the overall meaning, concepts, and application of larger passages of Scripture, not focusing on dissecting one verse every day. It’s kind of like cooking supper. You need to focus on fixing the whole meal every night rather than pouring all your focus into mincing that clove of garlic into perfectly symmetrical cubes.


I am convicted because I have not been faithful to be a witness for the Gospel. I get tongue tied even with family! I just want to be faithful like the Apostle Paul. My problem is getting started……I know the Good News and want to share. Can you help guide me? I was invited to church and heard the Word preached and the Holy Spirit convicted me of my guilt as a sinner. Can I just invite someone to church?

What a wonderful encouragement it is to encounter a sister with a zeal for sharing the gospel! If it makes you feel any better, a lot of us have the same experience when it comes to sharing the gospel. Let me see if I can offer a little help:

  • While we are all commanded to share the gospel with the lost, there are some people who are just really gifted at it. It comes as naturally to them as breathing, they never get flustered, and they make it look easy. I’m not one of those people, but I can point you to a couple of brothers who are: Ray Comfort and Todd Friel. Head on over to the Living Waters YouTube channel and watch a few thousand videos of Ray walking up to strangers and sharing the gospel. Subscribe to Wretched on your favorite podcast platform, and listen in to the “Witness Wednesday” episodes with Todd. These are the kinds of guys you should look to and be learning from when it comes to “cold call” evangelism.
  • Remember that walking up to a stranger and verbally sharing the gospel is not the only way you can evangelize:
    1. If you have unsaved children at home, they are your primary mission field. They’re just as lost and dead in their sins as any stranger on the street.
    2. Ditto for teaching children at your church. Pour the gospel into those kiddos every week.
    3. Tracts. Get a bunch and carry them around in your purse. Leave them behind at the store, the doctor’s office, the gym, wherever you go. Hand them to people personally when the opportunity arises. I highly recommend the Bezeugen Tract Club and tracts from Living Waters.
    4. If you’re on social media, share the gospel on your timeline. Write it out in your own words, share Scripture, or share links to gospel presentations. Here’s our gospel page at A Word Fitly Spoken. It has a text presentation of the gospel and a couple of videos if you’d like to share them.
    5. It is absolutely fine to invite someone to church (assuming you go to a doctrinally sound church) or any other Christian event where the gospel will be clearly and biblically presented. I would only quibble with people who call inviting someone to church “evangelism”. That’s not evangelism. Evangelism is when you actually share the gospel with someone (which every Christian should do when the opportunity presents itself). Inviting someone to church is inviting her to a place where she’ll be evangelized.
    6. Get creative! Give my articles 10 Ways to Share the Gospel During the Holidays and 10 Fun, Practically Effortless, and Free Ways to Do Missions and Evangelism a read and see if they give you any ideas.

Additional Resource:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#11)


Should I attempt to bribe/beg/force my teenage sons to go to church? My husband is no longer attending or leading the family spiritually. My sons and I do Bible study together, but they have no other church experiences.

Wow, this is such a difficult position for you to be in. I’m so sorry. I’ve taken a moment to pray for you and your family, and I would ask everyone reading this to pause briefly and do the same.

I would strongly encourage you to set up an appointment with your pastor to discuss this. Giving wise counsel to those he pastors is part of his job. You could also more thoroughly explain your situation to him and he could give you better informed counsel than I can.

Not knowing the dynamics of your situation, the best I can tell you is that I don’t see anything in Scripture that would say it’s a sin to offer your sons something they want or to excuse them from a certain chore or something like that in exchange for them attending church.

I’m not sure “beg” and “force” are words I’m comfortable with in the parent/child relationship. You are the parent. You are the one in authority and responsible to God for your children. When you tell them to do something, they should respectfully obey you. Period. “Begging” and “forcing” shouldn’t even be part of the equation.

That being said, I think it would be good and healthy for you to sit them down and have a serious, loving talk with them, explaining that, because you love them and want what’s best for them, you want to urge them to come to church with you. You can also explain how much their attendance would mean to you (just be careful not to guilt or manipulate them). And, since you’re teaching them the Bible, you might want to spend some time on Hebrews 10:24-25. But when you’ve had this talk with them, especially if they’re older teens and not Believers, you will probably need to leave the decision up to them. This is something it would be good to get your pastor’s guidance about.

Additional Resource:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#12)


If a woman were to speak at a church on the issue of abortion, would that fall into the category of a woman exercising authority over men?

No, the issue here would be whether or not she’s preaching to men or instructing them in the Scriptures, not whether or not she’s exercising authority over them. Someone giving an informational talk on a certain topic isn’t exercising authority over anyone, regardless of the venue, the sex of the speaker or the sex of the audience.

It’s a little difficult to answer this question due to the lack of details. Is this woman simply a member of the church who wishes to address the congregation, or is she a special guest speaker from a pro-life organization? Is her talk taking the place of the Sunday morning sermon? Is she going to be going at it from a “professional” angle (ex: stats on abortion, stories about moms who chose life, pro-life legislation), or is she going to get up and preach a sermon on Psalm 139?

It would be perfectly biblical for a special guest speaker to give a professional informational talk (not preaching/teaching the Bible) in any time slot other than when the sermon usually takes place (Tuesday night, during a special Sunday luncheon, etc.). (Because a- nothing should take the place of the preaching of God’s Word, and b- you don’t want her or anyone in attendance to be confused that she’s preaching the sermon.)

It would also be fine a woman who’s a member of the church and does sidewalk counseling or volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center or even a woman who has had an abortion (and repented of it) to speak about her experiences in a “personal testimony” sort of way.

But when it’s time for biblical instruction and admonition from the Scriptures about abortion, that’s the pastor’s job.

Additional Resource:

Rock Your Role FAQs (#7,14)


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.

Mailbag

The Mailbag: Asked and Answered

Have I told you lately that I love you? (Some of us are old enough to remember that song! :0) I really do love all of you readers and followers. It is an honor and a joy to serve you in Christ.

Sometimes in an article I’ll say something like, “If you’ve been around the blog for a while, you probably know that…yada, yada, yada.” Well, some of y’all haven’t been around the blog for a while, and to that, I say welcome! It’s always great to have more of the fam gathered ’round.

But because some of y’all are new, you aren’t yet aware of all of the resources here to help you. Let’s remedy that!

First, if you’re new (or if you’ve never read it), check out Blog Orientation for New Readers and Old Friends. It’s like a Cliffs Notes intro to the blog.

Second, be sure to familiarize yourself with all of the tabs in the blue menu bar at the top of the page. That’s where I keep the info I’m most frequently asked about.

Third, there’s a search bar at the bottom of every page (and one in the blue menu bar at the top of every page) which might help you find what you need.

And finally, let me get you newbies some answers to the questions several of you have asked recently. Some of you long time friends may have missed these along the way, so I hope they’ll be helpful to you, too!

Are there any sound Christian musicians anymore?

Yes, they’re just few and far between, and not as well known as the unsound ones. Check out this article which contains both artists to avoid and doctrinally sound artists, plus other helpful resources:

The Mailbag: False Doctrine in Contemporary Christian Music


My sister just got ordained by her church as a minister, also she is involved in deliverance ministries. She believes that God speaks outside of Scripture and promotes many false teachers. I’ve been praying for wisdom and compassion and the right opportunity to share. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

It is heartbreaking when a loved one forsakes sound doctrine and does a swan dive into the cesspool of rebellion and false teaching. If you need to approach a loved one in a situation like this, here’s some help:

The Mailbag: How should I approach my church leaders about a false teacher they’re introducing? (While this article is about approaching church leaders about false teachers, the same basic principles apply when approaching a loved one.)

Clinging to the Golden Calf: 7 Godly Responses When Someone Says You’re Following a False Teacher 

Discernment: A Spiritual Battle, Not a Logical One 

Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It? 

Words with Friends: How to contend with loved ones at A Word Fitly Spoken


Which translation of the Bible do you recommend?

I think the two best English translations out there right now are the English Standard Version (ESV) and the New American Standard (NASB). I also highly recommend the MacArthur Study Bible. Check out more info on Bible translations, some to avoid, and more great resources here:

The Mailbag: Which Bible Do You Recommend?


Are you on any other social media that is in favor of free speech? I have deleted Twitter and am attempting to get off Facebook but I would still like to follow you.

This is an important one with all the censorship that’s taking place on the major platforms right now. I am currently on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, MeWe, Parler, and Gab. (I also have a YouTube channel, but I’m not really using it at the moment.) My plan is to remain on Facebook and Twitter (and probably Instagram since it’s owned by Facebook) until I’m banned, then utilize my remaining platforms. You can always find the direct links to all of my social media accounts in the Contact and Social Media tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


I have tried without success to find the answer to: As a woman is it violating 1 Timothy 2:11-12 for me to present the gospel to a man?

There’s a lot of confusion about what it means to “present the gospel” or “share the gospel” or “evangelize”. Some people use those as catchall terms for everything from a woman pastoring a church, to a mom reading a Bible story to her 2 year old, to posting a Bible verse on Facebook. If what you mean is a one on one conversation with a man in which you explain to him that he is a sinner, and how he can be saved (which is the actual defintion of the aforementioned terms), then the answer to your question is no. It is not a violation of Scripture for a woman to do that. See #11 here.

Got questions about the role of women in the church? Check out these resources:

Rock Your Role: A series of articles examining the Scriptures which pertain to the role of women in the church

Rock Your Role FAQs: Frequently asked questions about real life roles and activities in the church and whether or not women may biblically participate in them


Is X teacher, pastor, or author doctrinally sound?

Check the Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page. These are the teachers I’ve actually written articles on.

If you don’t find the person you’re looking for there, find the search bar and type in the person’s name. (Make sure you spell it exactly right.) I may have mentioned the person you’re looking for in an article about someone or something else.

If you do both of these and you don’t get any hits, you can be confident that I haven’t written anything on the person you’re looking for. You’re welcome to email me asking about that teacher, but as you know (having read the “Blog Orientation” article linked above) I most likely won’t be able to answer. That brings us to our final resource here at the blog for researching and vetting teachers:

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own


Who are some pastors, teachers, and authors you recommend?

You’ll find a list of several dozen at the Recommended Bible Teachers tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.


I live in X area. Can you help me find a doctrinally sound church?

The Searching for a new church? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page has multiple church search engines, churches recommended by my readers, information on church planting, what to look for in a doctrinally sound church, and how to biblically leave your current church. Just click and start searching!

Just a couple of notes:

  • You’ll have to do the legwork of searching and vetting the churches for yourself. I can’t do that for you.
  • If you’ve thoroughly searched every single search engine and can’t find an established church within achievable driving distance of your home, you may need to check around with local friends or denominational agencies, move, or start utilizing the church planting resources. You can email me, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to help. As I once joked with a friend, “I’m not Walmart. I don’t have any churches in the back stock room. Everything I have is out on the shelves.” :0)

Can you recommend a good women’s Bible study?

Yes, mine. You can find all of them – all free and all suitable for individual or group study, along with my philosophy of Bible study – at the Bible Studies tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page.

No, I mean, can you recommend a pre-packaged book, DVD, etc., study by a well known Christian author?

No, because I recommend that women study straight from the text of Scripture itself (which is what my studies are designed to teach women how to do).

The Mailbag: Can you recommend a good Bible study for women/teens/kids?


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.

Mailbag, New Year's

The Mailbag: My word for the year is…

Originally published January 7, 2019

I can’t seem to find information on one topic that keeps coming up with women I am friends with. “One word” for the year. They are all waiting to “hear” from God what one word they need to focus on for the year. I have been asked what my word for the year is. I just think… the Word Of God is my word for every year. Do you happen have any links, resources, or input?

I wish there weren’t any links or resources on this, but, unfortunately, it looks like a small cottage industry – both secular and evangelical – is growing up around this unbiblical concept. (I’m not going to give anyone free advertising and website hits by providing their links.)

The idea is pretty simple. You pick (or God “speaks” to you) a word that represents some sort of change you want to see in your life and you focus on that word, especially during situations when you want to see that change manifest itself, for the remainder of the year. For example, if you want to be a more peaceful person, you might choose “peace” as your word for the year. You find some way to think about or meditate on the word “peace” every day, but especially in worrisome or chaotic situations, and that’s supposed to make you a more peaceful person by the end of the year.

The only problem with this is – as with so many things in pop evangelicalism – the Bible.

You will not find this practice taught, endorsed, or even mentioned in the Bible. In fact, I suspect this idea traces its roots back to some form of Eastern mysticism. It’s a modern day twist on repeating a mantra. And somebody thought it would be a good idea to “Christianize” it – so she slapped a thin coat of “this is how God can speak to you and work in your life” paint over the surface of it.

That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works. You don’t just get to make up Christianity as you go along. That’s God’s job, not ours, and He already set it up exactly the way He wants it – in the Bible.

We know that God is not going to speak a certain “word for the year” to people for two reasons. First of all, extra-biblical revelation is unbiblical. God speaks to us through His all-sufficient written Word, not audibly. Which brings us to reason number two. Because God speaks to us through His written Word, and there’s nothing in His written Word about getting a word for the year, we can be certain that He’s not going to be whispering a word for the year in anybody’s ear.

OK, so let’s take the extra-biblical revelation component out of it. What if we go at it from a sanctification angle? Maybe I’ve noticed that I tend to worry too much, so I decide, for the sake of my own spiritual growth, that my word for the year is going to be “peace”, and I’m going to focus on that word this year?

Still not biblical. Not just because it’s not taught in the Bible (although that’s certainly reason enough), but for a host of other reasons as well.

For starters, we are not in charge of our sanctification, God is. He is the one who gets to decide what work He’s going to do in our hearts, and how He’s going to do that. And that’s a really good thing because He is infinitely wiser and more powerful than we are and He knows our hearts much better than we do. You probably won’t hear many of your girlfriends choosing words like “suffering”, “humility”, or “repentance” as their word for the year, but God knows that areas like these – the ones we often push back against with the greatest resistance – are the ones we usually need the most work on.

Next, sanctification isn’t linear. You don’t tackle peace, master it, then move on to patience, master it, and then move on to whatever’s next. And that’s how this “word for the year” thing is set up. This year, you choose the word “peace”. Next year, maybe you’ll choose “patience”, and so on. But what do you do when you get to the end of the year and you know you haven’t mastered peace yet? What then? Do you choose the word “peace” again? Give up on peace and choose another word?

Biblical sanctification is more like a big bowl of spaghetti noodles. Everything is all tangled up and inter-connected. At any given time, God could be working on one or five or a dozen different aspects of your character. And while you’ll rejoice when you occasionally look back over how much you’ve grown, you’ll never “master” any aspect of Christlikeness this side of Glory.

Finally, God has already prescribed our role in sanctification, and meditating on a particular word for the year is not even a little part of it. Our role in sanctification is to abide in Christ. How? We learn the “how” of abiding in Christ from studying our Bibles. John 15 offers us a little glimpse:

V.1: I [Jesus] am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Recognize that, as I mentioned, God is the vinedresser – the one who prunes, waters, fertilizes, harvests – not you.

V.2: …every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Bear up under pruning as God conforms you to the image of Christ. Cooperate with whatever He’s trying to do in your life by obeying Him, thanking Him, and realizing that He’s doing it to make you more fruitful.

V.4: As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. Recognize and practice your dependence on Christ and His work for you and in you, not on a word you meditate on. You can’t be a fruitful Christian by coming up with your own way to grow in Christ. You can only do it His way.

V.7a: If you abide in me, and my words abide in you… To abide in Christ is simply to live for Him and commune with Him day by day. One of the ways we do that is to study “His words” – the Bible – so that those words will live in us. We ingest the words of Christ by studying our Bibles at home, with our Sunday School or Bible study class at church, sitting under good preaching at our church, and consuming other biblical materials during the week.

V.7b: …ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. If you’re abiding in Christ and His Word is abiding in you – what kinds of “whatever you wish” things do you think you’ll be asking Him for? Your foundational prayer to anything else you might ask for will be for God to be glorified and for Him to make you more like Christ. “Father, please heal me, but only if that will glorify You and make me more like Christ.” “Lord, I’d like You to take away this difficult situation at work, unless letting it continue would grow me to be more like Christ. Help me to glorify You no matter what.” Prayer is one of God’s prescribed methods of sanctification.

V.8: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. Glorify God by bearing the fruit of the Spirit, displaying the fruit of obedience, harvesting the fruit of evangelism, and by doing so, displaying for the world what a real disciple of Christ looks like in order to point them to Him.

V.10,12,14: If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…You are my friends if you do what I command you. Obey Christ’s commands and love one others the way He loves you. That’s the heart of your role in sanctification. It’s an outward focus on how you can bring Him glory in any situation by obeying Him and loving others with a die-to-self love rather than a navel-gazing, self-centered, inward focus on “How can I be a better me?”.

V.11: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Don’t forget the joy! What joy is there in a word that you focus on? How can you quantify whether or not you’re a better person at the end of the year and derive joy from that? Sanctification God’s way offers instant, daily gratification in the joy department. Joy dwells in us because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Joy wells up when we see the hand of God at work in our hearts and lives, when He answers prayer, even just from spending time with Him in His Word, worship, and prayer. Joy is communion with a Person, not satisfaction over a job well done of pulling yourself up by your own boot straps.

This “word for the year” thing is not necessary, it’s not biblical, and it kicks God out of His rightful place of authority in sanctification and attempts to put self in the driver’s seat. You’re on the right track with your thinking. When someone asks you what your word for the year is, just hold up your Bible and tell her, “All of these.” After all, Christ gives us abundant life. Why would we limit ourselves to one measly little word when we can study all of God’s words?


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.

Christmas, Mailbag

The Mailbag: Merry “X-mas”?

Originally published December 16, 2019

When people use the term “X-mas” instead of “Christmas,” isn’t that taking Christ out of Christmas? Should Christians use the term “X-mas”?

What a great Christmas time question! It’s kind of understandable that people would think that the “X” in X-mas is removing Christ or genericizing Christmas. We use the letter X as an unknown variable in math. We might see a detergent commercial in which one of the bottles is labeled ‘brand X’ instead of its real name. So it can kind of seem like X is a place-filler or that it can stand for practically anything. 

But that’s not the case with the X in X-mas. That X has a finite value. X = 1, the One and only, Jesus Christ. How do we know that?

First, let’s take a look at where the term “X-mas” came from. GotQuestions’ article Is it wrong to say Xmas instead of Christmas? provides us with a nice, succinct answer:

In Greek, the original language of the New Testament, the word for “Christ” is Χριστός, which begins with the Greek letter that is essentially the same letter as the English letter X. So, originally, Xmas was simply an abbreviation of Christmas. No grand conspiracy to take Christ out of Christmas. Just an abbreviation.

What this means is that, in the term X-mas, rather than the letter X taking Christ out of Christmas, the letter X actually stands for Christ. It is used in the same way that we might use “H.S.” to stand for “Holy Spirit” or “OT/NT” to stand for “Old Testament” or “New Testament” when we’re writing informally (I’ve never actually heard someone say X-mas, H.S., OT/NT, have you?), we’re pressed for space, and the people in our audience probably know what those letters mean.

But it’s obvious from the number of people questioning the term “X-mas” as “taking Christ out of Christmas,” that most people – in any audience – don’t know what that letter means. So we need to go a bit further.

Is it possible that advertisers or atheists or others with an active, outward animosity toward the things of God are using the term “X-mas” as a way to mention Christmas without actually having to write the letters in the word “Christ”? To intentionally try to “take Christ out of Christmas”? Yes, it’s possible. But it’s a pretty silly thing to do if you think about it. Everybody who sees “X-mas” in their ad or e-mail or whatever they’ve written knows they mean Christmas, they know they mean Christmas, and, as we’ve just seen, the “X” means “Christ”. So what is the ever-lovin’ point? To parade their “Ooooo, I’m gonna stick it to Christians” pettiness and intolerance before the world?

Yes, such people exist, but I really believe, for the moment anyway, that, despite what it may look like on the news or social media, they’re still the fringe minority. It seems to me that most regular non-Christians who use the term “X-mas” simply do so to save time and space in whatever they’re writing. When I Googled “X-mas,” the two main uses I saw for the term were a) articles with titles like, “Why Do People Use X-mas Instead of Christmas?” and b) space-saving product descriptors (ex: xmas tee- red, LS/SS S,M,L) on sales websites.

But what about Christians using the term “X-mas”?

There is nothing fundamentally sinful or unbiblical about using the term “X-mas” (especially since the X stands for Christ) when necessary since there’s no Bible verse or principle that prohibits it. I have occasionally used both “Xmas” and “Xian” (Christian) on Twitter due to the character limit. My audience is mostly mature Christians (many of whom know what X-mas means), and my theology is an open book to the public, so no one could credibly accuse me of trying to take Christ out of Christmas (or Christian).

But there are a couple of other issues we should think about when it comes to the term “X-mas”.

The first issue is weaker brothers. If you’re not familiar with God’s admonition to us to lay down our Christian liberties so as not to wound the faith of new Christians or Christians who have a weakness of conscience in a particular area, I encourage you to study 1 Corinthians 8 and 1 Corinthians 10:23-33.

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 1 Corinthians 8:9

If you know that a recipient of your annual Christmas newsletter or someone at church who sees your flier for the upcoming “X-mas Party” is going to be offended by your use of “X-mas” because they don’t understand that it’s not unbiblical, and that your’e not waging some sort of “war on Christmas,” just don’t use it. Why cause unnecessary offense over something so insignificant? Why not take a small, loving step toward living at peace with our weaker brothers and sisters? (I know it can be tough. I need a lot of improvement in this area, myself!)

The second issue has nothing to do with theology, but as an advocate for good writing, I feel I must mention it. Using “X-mas” in anything but the most informal pieces of writing (text messages, social media posts, a note to your husband, a label on your ornament storage container, etc.) looks sloppy and lazy, especially if your writing reaches a moderate to large audience. If you wouldn’t use abbreviations like “TBH” (to be honest) or “IMHO” (in my humble opinion) in what you’re writing, don’t use “X-mas”.

Merry Christmas!


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.

Christmas, Mailbag

The Mailbag: My kid knows the truth about Santa. What if he tells his friends who don’t?

Originally published December 3, 2018

We have raised our five year old to know that Santa Claus isn’t real. Now that he’s getting old enough to have conversations with his little friends, how do we explain to him what to say to them when they talk about believing in Santa? I don’t want him to crush their dreams but I also don’t want to teach him to perpetuate the lie for his friends.

This is a great question, and one my husband and I also had to address with our own children, since we raised them to know that Santa Claus isn’t real.

Before I tackle your question, I’d like to address Christian parents who tell their children Santa Claus is real, that he is the one who brings their presents, etc.:

I’m sure you have the best of intentions and only want to make Christmas fun for your children, but when you tell them these things about Santa Claus, you are lying.

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.
Excerpted from: The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids about Santa Claus?

And this reader has raised another ripple effect of your sin of lying. You’ve now put your brothers and sisters in Christ in the difficult position of figuring out how not to blow your cover when their child (who knows the truth) interacts with yours. Do they teach their child to take part in your lie, or do they risk their child telling the truth, disappointing your child and possibly angering you? And think about the pressure on a five year old child to try to keep something like that a secret, knowing someone will be disappointed if he doesn’t. You’ve created a no-win situation for people you are supposed to self-sacrificially love, encourage, and edify.

Our sin always negatively affects others.

We did our best to thread the needle by teaching our children to stay out of it. Every year, we reminded our kids – before family gatherings, play dates, etc. – that some kids believe Santa is real. If a friend inquired, “What did you ask Santa for this year?”, our kids could reply, “I asked my parents for a bike.” If any of their friends asked them if Santa was real, we told our kids to tell their friends to ask their parents.

You might want to give something like that a try, or maybe you can come up with a different solution that’s helpful to the situation. Don’t fret about it, though. Most kids learn the truth about Santa between ages 5 to 10, and most of them learn it from their friends. If you have a friend who freaks out at you because your five year old told the truth about something, it could be time to reevaluate that friendship, or at least the level of intimacy of that friendship. (And if it’s a family member, well…this, too, shall pass.)

However you teach your child to handle the situation, be sure you’re not conveying the idea that we cover up the sin (the lie that Santa is real) of others. We tried to go at it from the angle of our kids telling the other kids, “That’s a topic that should stay between you and your parents.” It’s pretty much the same way we later handled the situation of what to do if your friends ask you where babies come from (“You need to ask your parents about that.”)

Also keep in mind that, even though it may feel like you’re the Grinch if your child spills the beans about Santa, you’re not, despite the fact that others may treat you that way. If you’re humbly doing what is right in God’s eyes and the other person is doing what is wrong, you’re not the problem in that situation.


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.