I’m making my way back home from speaking at a pastor’s conference in Bangledesh. This has been a “quick trip”, considering that getting to Bangledesh can be a 30hour journey with a 12 hour time change – so no travel to Bangledesh is a in reality a “quick trip.” When I was deciding about this trip, I was weighing the cost of the trip, not only financially, but the cost of time, impact to my family & Spring Break time together – sacrifices.
With all these considerations, I felt in my heart that I needed to join this conference – a very unique opportunity to meet Christian leaders in a Muslim country & hopefully encourage & minister to them. And in light of our new nightcare in Bangledesh, I felt that this opportunity would also be strategic & a great way to begin some important relationships for the future.
Before I left for this trip, most of what I felt was a mix of hope, anticipation & sacrifice. Now that I’m returning home, I recognize the sacrifice to be sure. But getting to team up with Holy Spirit to minister to such incredible leaders has left me astounded. Additionally, I experienced some progress on some questions in my heart. And I sense a significant green light from God about Saving Moses growing in our nightcare work throughout this region of the world. Yes this trip was a sacrifice & I’m physically very tired. I’m also very awestruck with God’s generosity that counteracts the sacrifices that we make. I’m very thankful.
Do you have people for whom it’s very difficult to buy gifts? What do you get the person who has everything? Or even more importantly, what do we give Jesus in this Christmas season?
Here are a few ideas:
Presents – the Wise Men brought Jesus gold, frankincense & myrrh, gifts befitting a King, from the resources they had. Let’s be generous with our resources!
Fame – the shepherds, upon finding Jesus lying in a manger, went out & spread the news about His birth & heavens announcement to them via the angles. Let’s be committed to promoting Jesus more than anything or anyone else!
Presence – never diminish the truth that Jesus enjoys your company, so don’t overlook the pauses & moments throughout this season to give your attention & your self to Jesus 🙂
If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that Jesus is inside a transparent “box”, made to look like a present. And it’s not a stretch for us to see Jesus as God’s present to us. John 3:16 comes to mind with God loving & giving Jesus to us.
But let’s think about this in another way: perhaps Jesus modeled for us God’s core desire – presence equals present or gift.
When we give God our presence, this is one the greatest presents we can give God. Of course money, serving & worship are vital gifts that we give to God, but giving God our presence is the expression of whole hearted love. Let’s be sure to make time in this busy season to be present with God 🙂
During Christmas, it seems like we are frequently aware of the whole gift thing & sometimes that can be kind of tricky. Here are some ideas for gifts that could be really useful:
encouragement: Christmas is a great time to put into words (even on a card) how important someone is to you, to let someone know how wonderful they are or what you admire / respect about them
hugs: some people really appreciate a genuine hug during Christmas without getting sketchy 🙂
time: I took one of my kids skiing yesterday & we totally enjoyed lots of time together, without phones, email, FB, etc – just being together
extra effort: doing something nice for someone (bring them a cup of coffee, offer to clean their garage, run errands, etc) can be super meaningful – even creating coupons for work can be a nice gift
gift: gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful
The ideas listed above are from Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages book – a super helpful way to express love in ways that are meaningful to the person receiving the gift & not just the person giving the gift 🙂
There’s lots to be said on the topic of loving people: we should love people, sometimes its hard to be loving, love isn’t merely a feeling, love is generous, there are many ways to express love, etc.
I used to think that it was necessary for me to first experience God’s love before I could love people. Lately, I’ve been thinking about this idea in a different way. In my better moments, I know that God loves me & of course this helps me to love people. However, in those times when I’m not sensing God’s love to me, its important to love people – even when it takes some faith & extra grit to be loving. Indeed, the Bible says that faith works by love. Faith & love are inter-connected. So here’s something that I’ve been experiencing: when I’m genuinely loving, I experience God’s love. Perhaps the resolution of my deficiency of love starts with me being loving & giving love 🙂
Here’s a teaching I did recently on loving people:
Christmas can sometimes be an expensive holiday, depending on how you celebrate it. Given the economy this year, along with the employment situation for many of my friends, I thought I’d suggest a gift that doesn’t require money but is thoroughly invaluable to not only the receiver but also to you the person giving the gift. Interested to know what you can give that’s expensive but doesn’t cost money?
See, here’s the deal: we all have people in our lives that need our forgiveness. Whether its the jerk that cut you off when you’re driving or the very hurtful remark someone said to you at work. Or maybe you’ve been hurt by something your mate said to or about you without thinking of the sting it has left in you. Maybe someone did something to you in your childhood that still affects you to this day. The truth is, no one has to look hard for opportunities to forgive – our life is full of such opportunitites every day.
So this Christmas, let’s give others the gift of forgiveness – to let go.
Forgiveness is given when we don’t remind the person of their shortcoming.
Forgiveness is given when we speak kind words without sarcasm (or do our best to be pleasant)
Forgiveness is given when we want what is in the offenders best interest (and not the getting even approach)
Forgiveness is given when we don’t have to always make the offender know that we’re forgiving them
I think that many of us don’t do the forgiveness because it takes alot of work & its much less work to not forgive, especially at the beginning of an offense. But i’ve found that the longer i hold onto an offense, the harder it is to let it go & the more drained i become from maintaining the offense.
So be generous this season without spending alot of money 🙂
Give the gift of forgiveness & go into the new year with greater freedom and liteness of being 🙂
Gifts are a really big deal at Christmas – especially for people who feel love by receiving gifts (you can actually feel MORE love by giving than receiving, but that’s a different blog). Anyways, here’s an interesting thought – what are the various “gifts” people gave to Jesus? Here’s an example: Simon gave Jesus a gift of service by carrying His cross to Golgotha for Jesus. What are some other gifts people gave / brought to Jesus?