I have good news and bad news. The good news…Today is only Day 16 of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series! The bad news is…There is only 9 Days left to shop ’til Christmas! Did you feel your blood pressure rise with that update? It’s no wonder as marketers put these types of images with tag lines like “Guaranteed delivery before Christmas Day if you complete your orders by ____.” The constant bombardment of commercials, advertisements and email flyers cultivates a Spirit of Consumerism and Materialism that I pray will be broken today. We first introduced this with the ★ Day 04 – Reason for the Season – Christmas Consumerism ★ post that was chiefly written by my oldest daughter when she was 14! Today’s “Reason for the Season” is inspired by her as well, however not for what she wrote, but for how she lives. But before I jump into that, let’s have some comic relief, and since we haven’t had any for a couple of days, here are two…I so love these comics because they illustrate two aspects of the same spirit that we need to be very careful about feeding. One is that you get everything on your list and the other is that needing assurance that the gift can be returned/exchanged if it is not liked. Now I will put this caveat out there…There is nothing sinful about making a Christmas list or receiving/getting gift receipts, that IS NOT what I am saying at all. As my wife and I have been raising our now 15-year old and 12-year old daughters, we have tried to impart to them that Christmas is about Jesus and doing for others more than it is about receiving gifts. Before you think that they never received Christmas gifts, that is the furthest thing from the truth…we just do not spend a thousand dollars on Christmas presents for two reasons…
1. To stop them expecting and becoming entitled to receive large, costly items…And…
2. For practical reasons, we don’t want to have to work the next 6 months paying off the credit cards to pay for Christmas.
What I hope to do today is introduce this idea of a “Gift from the Heart.” A what? You may ask…You mean I do not receive a gift from you that is on my list but rather that you put thought and effort into coming up with and buying on your own? I must admit that when my wife and I were first dating, this was a foreign concept and one that needed to adjust to but one that I love! We still have some items on a list by we have tried hard over the years to put a little effort into the gift exchange. It was interesting though, as we have had the “Christmas List” discussions with different family members, when we came to our oldest we asked her what she wanted for Christmas and her response was a “gift from the heart,” or money for her to go on a Mission Trip to help others less fortunate. WOW! I had two reactions…one of conviction on how selfless that response was and the other unbelievable pride in the maturity and true “Spirit of Christmas” she possesses at the age of 15! Now I tell you this not to brag but to encourage and show that it is possible to move from a “gimmie attitude” to one of “giving.” That is the Heart of God and what Jesus came to earth to teach us! I love what Chris Tomlin said,
“The true secret of life is to give rather than receive, and no greater gift has been given to us than God giving His only Son, Jesus, to make a way for us, to bring us hope and salvation.”
The Beauty of Christmas is not in the presents but in His presence!! In ★ Day 10 – Reason for the Season – What is the Spirit of Christmas? ★ post, I shared about a beloved episode of our family from Little House on the Prairie called “Christmas in Plum Creek” and I wanted to share yet another heartwarming moment of that episode. In the climactic scene, baby Carrie reminds the family that “there’s one last Christmas gift to open.” After finding a penny, Carrie went to Olsen’s Mercantile and bought a gift for Baby Jesus…A shiny star ornament for the top of the family’s Christmas tree. After all, Christmas is really Jesus’ birthday isn’t it? Such a beautiful example of sacrifice and I pray that we could all have a heart of giving like a child…To give all we have for Jesus! And it does not mean give away all your money, it could mean giving up your time or some other resource to help others. My wife told me of this acoustic from Susie Jennings’ book “31 Days of Mountaintop Miracles” yesterday about how to have True JOY…It is possible to have if we focus on these priorities…
And to tie this into our “Reason for the Season,” we can have True Joy in spite of the marketing-induced chaos if we only adjust our focus…Not just for the Christmas Season but all year round! Susie Jennings runs a ministry called Operation Care International which puts on an “ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR JESUS” for the homeless.
If you live in Dallas/Fort Worth, it will be at the Dallas Convention Center this Saturday, December 19 @ 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, if you would like information to attend, volunteer and/or give, click here.
Robert Morris had this interesting point that can help with the refocusing effort,
“We tend to relate God’s blessings to stuff. But a person who has more stuff than someone else is not necessarily more blessed. Stuff is just stuff. And the way you think about stuff will determine whether you have a heart of gratitude or a heart of greed.”
I want to always have a heart of gratitude and it starts by simple saying thank God for all that you have richly blessed me with…Start big and go small…
- Thank you for sending Jesus to save me,
- Thank you for my spouse,
- Thank you for my children,
- Thank you for my job,
- Thank you for my home,
- Thank you for the clothes on my back,
- Thank you for my dog!
You get the point…There is so much to be grateful for! I will close with a picture of my dog and James 1:17 (NIV) which says,
If you would like to see the next installment of our “25 Days of Thankfulness” series go here…★ Day 17 – Reason for the Season – Consumed with Busyness ★
Or you can start from the beginning by ★ Clicking Here ★
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