12 Ways of Christmas
December 6, 2011
Tired of watching the world profit from the commercialism of Christmas but throw away the reason for the celebration? Weary of stuff like being told to say “holiday tree” instead of “Christmas tree?” While the culture at large wants to keep the party but dump the meaning, we can adjust our focus so we keep in sight the real reason for the season. Here are twelve suggestions:
1. Find a devotional guide or plan out a Bible reading schedule to carry you through Christmastime with daily meditations on Christ’s advent, incarnation, virgin birth, and Davidic lineage. If you haven’t done so already, memorize the Christmas story in Luke 2: There were shepherds abiding in the field . . .
2. Pray. Make a list of the people in your life who need to encounter the love of Christ. Pray for them and ask God to give you opportunities to share. Remember the persecuted church—especially our brothers and sisters in Darfur.
3. Correspond. Include the Good News in annual Christmas letters. Choose cards with a message, or consider producing your own. Give away “Jesus” videos when you go Christmas caroling. If you support a child through an organization such as World Vision or Compassion International, tuck in some Christmas-themed stickers with your greeting card.
4. Decorate. Let your Christmas tree serve as a reminder that Jesus hung on a tree so that one day we might be invited to eat freely from the tree of life. Place your crèche in a central location, but leave the cradle empty until Christmas morning—when you make a grand celebration of the baby’s arrival. And place the wise men across the room from the nativity scene, inching them closer each day until they arrive on Epiphany—January 6.
5. Invite. Ask unchurched friends to join you in attending a Christmas production. Invite neighbors over for dinner and share about what Christmas means to you. Take a child shopping with you to buy toys for underprivileged kids.
6. Give wisely. For the people on your Christmas list, select gifts with eternity in view. Consider giving books, music, videos, subscriptions, tickets to special events, and art that will encourage each recipient in his or her spiritual walk.
7. Give of yourself. USA Today reports that 30 percent of Americans spend $750 or more on Christmas presents; 19 percent say they’ll shell out over $500 for gifts; and 22 percent will buy $250 worth of stuff. A mere 8 percent expect Christmas spending to be less than $100. Instead of laying out so much cash consider meaningful gifts you can create. Make a gift certificate for three hours of free childcare for a neighbor. Write your life story—including your spiritual testimony—and give copies to your kids. Get your parents’ home movies transferred to video or disk, and give copies to the whole family. Give an old family recipe in a basket full of all the ingredients. Record yourself reading a favorite Bible story and send it to your grandkids. Make a homemade book about Josiah, the eight-year-old king, for your favorite eight-year-old.
8. Give food. Take a basket of Christmas dinner food to someone in need. If you have children, take them with you and talk about the One who said, “It’s better to give than to receive.”
9. Clear your shelf. If you have ten different versions of the Bible, donate a few. This article tells you how the Bible Foundation can help.
10. Clean your attic. If you have extra bedding, pillowcases, or coats, send them to the Gospel Mission nearest you. Rather than saving it all for later, put it to good use now. If you have children’s or maternity clothing, donate it to a pregnancy resource center.
11. Invest. If people ask what you want for Christmas, provide the name of your favorite charity and ask them to make a donation instead of buying you another pink lampshade
12. Go. Spend time visiting shut-ins or teaching literacy. Build bridges so you can cross them to share Christ’s love. Don’t limit yourself to Christian charities—your work in a secular setting could provide you with opportunities to be “salt and light” among other volunteers who would never go to church. And before you hang your calendar for the new year, consider blocking out some days for a short-term missionary trip. Plan to spend time in a different culture—whether at home or abroad—leading VBS, teaching English, coaching sports, practicing medicine, or distributing food and clothing in the name of Christ. Lend your expertise for the furtherance of the gospel and 2012 will be a year filled with joy.
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Have you heard the story of the man that got himself in trouble with the law? His wife set her life aside and gave all her attention to helping her husband get out of his legal troubles. However, as the wheels of justice slowly turned, he found himself still in jail after many weeks. He exhausted every avenue of help that he could pursue from within the jail, there was nothing left to do but hope his wife would not give up. Fortunately, his wife focused even more, sacrificed more, and gave all she had until finally she secured his release. He was delighted, they celebrated his freedom, and his joy was unspeakable. However, soon his attention began to wander to another woman and it was not long before he left his wife for another woman.
Most of us would not give two cents for a man that would accept such generous sacrifice from his wife and then abandon her. However, many people treat God that way and then expect an enthusiastic welcome home into heaven. I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed.
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