Archive - 2012

Is the Elf on Your Shelf a Christian?
More than just another candy?
The Little Drummer Boy
Like PedestrianGod!
You’ve Got Mail

Is the Elf on Your Shelf a Christian?

Have you adopted an elf this Christmas? Do your children wake up each morning on a new hide-and-seek adventure with them? If so, be warned – the elf on your shelf may not be a Christian.

This statement may curl your elf slippers and cause your stocking cap to stand straight up. Not every elf believes in God.

In case you’re completely out of the trendy Christmas loop, Elf on the Shelf is a rather recent product…excuse me…tradition. You can “adopt” an elf at stores such as Target. For thirty bucks you get an elf, book, keepsake box, and access to Santa’s special online activities. The Elf magically appears around December 1st in your home. His or her job is to keep a close eye on your children and report back to Santa every night in order to more accurately update the “Naughty and Nice” list.

Just exactly how popular have these elves become?

  • They had an elf balloon at this year’s Macy’s Day Parade.
  • The company has partnered with “adoption” centers in Canada, the U.K., and Australia.
  • Over 2.5 million copies have sold in North America.
  • A movie, “An Elf’s Story” was adapted from the book.
  • In 2010, the three founders were named the Georgia Small Business Person of the Year by the Small Business Administration.

Before we  examine your elf’s theology, let’s take a quick glimpse at the creation of Elf on the Shelf.

The team: mom, Carol Aebersold and her twin daughters Chanda Bell and Christa Pitts. The concept is based on Carol’s tradition as a child that she passed on to her daughters. Carol was going through a hard time and her daughter encouraged her to write. They were rejected by all publishing companies so they self-published at first. Their one product sky rocketed and was developed into seventeen products, including a movie. In fact, in 2011, in association with Big Canoe Entertainment, Pitts and her family donated 100% of the net proceeds from the world premiere of “An Elf’s Story” to Atlanta’s premiere healthcare provider for kids – Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

In their own words, “We take Christmas magic very seriously.” The following is an excerpt from their website,

FAQ: What should I do if my elf is touched by mistake? – Christmas magic is very fragile, and if a scout elf is touched it may lose its magic. If your elf has been touched, please sprinkle a little cinnamon beside him or her before you go to bed; cinnamon is like vitamins for elves, and it helps them get back to the North Pole. Once they arrive, the North Pole E.R. doctors will check them out.

So, the question you’ve kept reading for: Is the Elf on Your Shelf a Christian? Read through these four points to determine your elf’s view of Christianity and how that impacts your family.

 1. Elves should foster imagination, not discipline.

Do not overemphasize the watchful eyes of the elf to the point that you ignore the reality of the Holy Spirit. Make certain your children clearly understand the difference between believing in a living God and make-believing a wintry wonderland.


2. Do not let your elf become your family’s idol.

The reason we as Christians celebrate at this time of year is to thank God for sending us His Son to earth so that through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and triumphant rising our relationship with our Maker is reconciled.


3. Let the elf bond your family together.

Traditions bring us together as a family. Some of my favorite Christmas memories as a child involve mom and I baking the same cookies each year. And the trail of candy canes that led you from your bedroom, past the styrafoam Santa, directly to the gifts on Christmas morning. As hard as it might be for kids to find the elf one morning, it’s even harder for parents to continue to create fun, new ideas. I may not believe in “Christmas magic,” but I do believe in the importance of traditions that create a buzz of excitement for every family member, both young and old. So have some fun with your spouse as you plot new hiding spots together. Encourage your children to work as a team as they search for the elf.

 4. As a parent, you control how your children view the elf on your shelf.

Always be mindful of the maturity level of your children. If you don’t feel confident that they can view your elf as a whimsical tradition, then don’t adopt an elf. There’s nothing inherently anti-Christian about the elf you choose to bring into your house. After all, the elf takes after the personalities and creativity of the parents.

More than just another candy?

“I want the J! Please! I want the J

I looked down at the plate of sugar cookies I was carrying to the kids to decorate. There were a half dozen reindeer,  gingerbread men that more or less resembled the Michelin man, candy canes, trees, and stars.

“I’m sorry; I don’t have any cookies cut out in letters.”

“Yes you do!” She ran over, snatched a candy cane shaped cookie, and busily slopped red and white icing on it.

Of course, given the cookie’s context, I don’ t know how that shape could have been anything but a candy cane. But this girl got one glance of it and determined it was the letter J.

Which got me to thinking: Why isn’t the traditional candy cane a straight stick? It seems like that would be easier to produce. Perhaps it’s so that we can easily hang them on the branches of our Christmas trees.

Or is the candy cane more poignant than we realize?

In 1670, the the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral had sticks of candy bent into the shape of a shepherd’s crook and passed them out to the children who attended the Christmas ceremony. The use of candy canes seems to have immigrated to America in the 1800’s. However, according to pictures on Christmas cards made before 1900, the canes were still completely white.

Can we use the candy cane to point our children to Jesus this Christmas season?

Yes. The legend of the candy cane is that the shape resembles the shepherd’s crook to remind us of Jesus, our Good Shepherd. The white stripe represents the purity of Jesus’ birth and life and the bold red stripe represents God’s love. The flavor of mint is similar to hyssop, which, in Old Testament times, was associated with purification and sacrifice. In the New Testament, it was used at the cross as Jesus was dying in our place as a punishment for our sin.

Whether or not this legend is fact, the candy cane presents us as believers with a simple opportunity to share the truth of the Good News of our Savior.

The Little Drummer Boy

Come, they told me pa-rum pum pum pum
Our newborn King to see, pa-rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King pa-rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum. rum pum pum pum
So to honor Him pa-rum pum pum pum
When we come

Little Baby pa-rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa-rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring pa-rum pum pum pum
That’s fit to give our King pa- rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you, pa-rum pum pum pum
on my drum?

Mary nodded pa-rum pum pum pum
The Ox and Lamb kept time pa-rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him pa-rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him pa -rum pum pum pum
Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum
Then He smiled at me pa-rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

“The Little Drummer Boy” (originally known as “Carol of the Drum”) is a popular Christmas song written around 1941. As you read above, it’s about a poor young bog who was summoned to the nativity where he was supposed to give the infant Jesus a gift. Having no gift, he played his drum, and the baby Jesus smiled.

How do you buy a gift for someone who already has everything?

It’s officially December and Kevin and I have gifts stashed in various rooms in our apartment. Some of the gifts truly stumped us – we knew we needed to buy something for one person in particular, but neither of knew what this person would enjoy. We paced the aisles in Walmart fruitlessly for twenty minutes until finally one object caught our attention. “That’s it!” We knew we had found a good gift.

But I can’t imagine buying a gift for God. He truly does have everything. And it’s not like I can get a gift that can surprise Him.

Does that mean I shouldn’t even try?

No. We aren’t called to give God our iPads, cars, or jewelry. We are exhorted to give Him our thanks.

Psalm 118: 28-29 says, “You are my God, and I will give You thanks. You are my God; I will exalt You. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”

Jeremiah 33:11 says there will be heard again “the voice of the groom and the bride, and the voice of those saying, Praise the LORD of Hosts, for the LORD is good; His faithful love endures forever as they bring thank offerings to the temple of the LORD.”

God never wearies of our praise. We never exhaust our thanks. His mercies are new each morning, so our praises never cease.

Is my gratitude enough?

1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 both remind us that God has given each of us different gifts but we are still a part of the same body whose goal is to bring praise to the same Lord. Some of the gifts include: service, teaching, encouragement, giving, and leading. No matter the gift, we are called to obey and bring glory to our Creator.

Like the little drummer boy, we are poor men and women – we can never own anything grand enough that  is fit for the King, the Lord Jesus. What we can do is be thankful for the gifts He has entrusted us with and faithfully praise His name.

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Returning to work from a four-day holiday is never fun. Even though last week was the official day of thanksgiving, I still have something to be thankful for this week – social media.

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You’ve Got Mail

My husband spent the last several weeks unsubscribing from mailing lists so that he would stop receiving spam emails.

Me? I spend the first couple minutes at my computer deleting the long list of junk messages. It’s not like they really affect me life. So what if I have 50 emails Monday morning simply because I didn’t check all weekend?

Kevin’s inbox is almost completely free from random solicitations. Mine, however, overflows and floods my computer screen.

When Kevin receives an email, he knows its contents have a purpose and directly relate to him. It took him time and effort to delete his email from the accounts,  but the results were worthwhile because he decluttered his life.

If we don’t take the time to remove the things from our lives that distract us, we never gain traction to a pure life.

The apostle Paul prayed that the Philippians would grow in “discernment to know what really matters so that they will be presented as pure and blameless on the day of Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-10)

I’m not speaking specifically toward emails here. It’s just an example to get us thinking.  Television shows empty of truth dirty my life. Music idealizing worldly possessions revert my attention away from Christ.

I wonder, what else clutters our life and disguises itself as important?

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