You’re going to hate me. I’ve already finished all my Christmas shopping. The gifts are wrapped, and most of them have already been delivered. I can barely believe it myself. Now I’m looking forward to spending December focused on other aspects of Christmas —putting up some decorations, meditating on the birth of Jesus, and perhaps baking our family’s favorite Christmas cookies.
(Okay, I’m bragging. I just happened to be extra motivated this year. We traveled a long distance to spend Thanksgiving with most of the people we exchange gifts with, and I wanted to haul everything in the car with me to save on shipping costs.)
Christmas is drawing near and there’s still that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. They certainly don’t need more stuff, yet you want to gift them with something special, something that shows how much you appreciate them. Don’t give up. You don’t need to buy that fruit cake or “tower of chocolates.” Invest in a memory instead!
The story of Israel and Judah is mostly a sad one. King after king rejected God, with disastrous consequences. David’s example of passionate obedience became the “gold standard” against which all the future kings were measured—and most were found wanting.
Solomon, with all his wisdom, still married foreign wives, who brought their pagan idols into their marriage and into the popular culture. It’s therefore no surprise that his son Rehoboam became an idolator. Consider 2 Chronicles 12:
You’re going to hate me. I’m already done with my Christmas shopping, and I had fun doing it! Since most of my shopping was done online, it was inevitable that I’d stumble across some totally cool items, something that would make the perfect gift—or at least stun the recipient. Unfortunately, none of them were quite right for anyone on my list. Since these finds are just too good to ignore, I’m passing them along to you. Who knows, maybe one of these is just what you’ve been looking for!
Banana Leaves Fresh (1 Lb) Bag 16oz Banana Leaves. I had no idea that you could buy banana leaves. Apparently, they’re an essential part of cooking and/or serving food in India, the Philippines, and other tropical locales. If you don’t want the real thing, you can get paper imitations. In fact, you can even get fake banana leaves with fake food on them (as illustrated here)! Where would you stick this banana leaf decal? If you get the real leaves, it would probably be a good idea to accompany them with an appropriate ethnic cookbook.
One of the most controversial subjects in the church today is the role of women. Should they be senior pastors? Are they allowed to teach adult Sunday School? What about teaching boys? Are women only allowed to work in the kitchen, change diapers, and knit baby blankets? Was Paul a misogynist? What does the Bible really say?
I’ve avoided this issue until now, but not because I don’t have an opinion. I do. I have a very strong opinion! But being of a personality type that abhors conflict, I just didn’t want to open a can of worms, female or otherwise. I’ve felt a lot like Moses at the burning bush—sure, I’ll have an opinion about this topic, but please get someone else to do the writing!
This Sunday is Father’s Day. You remembered, right? If you believe the ads, we’re all supposed to run out and buy our dads a tie / polo shirt / hand tool / golf club and wrap it up in manly paper. Along with that, we’re to buy a card thanking him for fixing everything / providing money / putting up with our youthful selves, and promising him a day in the hammock / on the golf course / at the BBQ.
You’ve made your gift list… something for your dad: check. Your father-in-law: check. If you’re a mom, the father of your children: check. If you have grandchildren, don’t forget to include your son or son-in-law. Now you can relax and look forward to the big day!
Well, there’s someone you forgot. Or should I say Someone. Ohhh, right, God is our Father too. Good grief, what do we give God for Father’s Day?
I’ve been talking all month about what sorts of things we can give Jesus for Christmas. A few weeks ago, our Global Sunday School showed the following video clip from a sermon by Paris Reidhead*. It highlights one more item on Jesus’ list… perhaps the most important item of all. What could be bigger than giving him our love for others and own love and devotion? Take five minutes, watch and see.
*Paris Reidhead (May 30, 1919 – March 23, 1992) was a Christian missionary, teacher, writer, and advocate of economic development in impoverished nations. (Wikipdia)
Continuing the series on What to Give God for Christmas…
Jesus didn’t stop with telling us to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. He wants us to love other people as much as he loves them. That’s a tall order! How do we go about loving others?
There are as many ways to love others as there are others to love. This is where we get to be a bit creative.
By all means, do something special for those on your Christmas list. One of my love languages is “gifts” so I can appreciate how well a carefully chosen present will convey the love of the person giving it. Even here, there are ways to help others while blessing your friends and family. I always check out the gifts on fair trade websites, especially for those hard-to-shop-for people; these organizations are a good source of handmade, one-of-a-kind items. For starters, I recommend Trade As One. I’ve been more than pleased with both their products and their service. (See last year’s post on fair trade.)
In my last post I talked about God’s Christmas wish list, and how our love for him is top priority. Here are some more ways to love God.
Trust and Obey
Another gift God appreciates is our faith. Do we trust Him? My friend Cynthia, who writes an excellent blog about prayer, recently wrote about something God told her:
When I meet you the way you ask Me to, you are blessed. You receive My grace-gifts, and you feel blessed. But when I don’t meet you the way you hoped yet you continue to trust Me anyhow—then you bless Me. You give Me your trust-gift, and I feel blessed.
Giving God our trust totally makes his day. So does our obedience. Obeying God tells him that we love him. Consider John 14:23: “Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'”
What do you want for Christmas? As small children sitting on Santa’s lap, we quickly learned to rattle off a long list of our desires—mostly things we’ve seen in ads on TV. Now that we’re older, we still have our lists, posted online at the request of family members trying to assemble a Christmas shopping list.
As the primary gift shopper in our household, I was scanning these lists when the thought occurred to me… what does Jesus want for Christmas? After all, it’s his birthday!
I was reminded of a passage I read recently—found in both Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33—where Jesus tells Peter “Get behind me, Satan! … You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” I wondered, what are the concerns of God? What could He, the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (not to mention the rest of creation) possibly lack? Or, if you’re not the practical gift type, what could we give Him to make Him happier?