I know some people who have, for one reason or another, dismissed Christmas pretty much altogether. I comprehend their stated reasoning, but it saddens me, nonetheless, and I cannot agree. Outside of Revelation, where else in Scripture do we find the Heavenly host appearing, thousands of them perhaps, and singing praise and glory to God in the highest except at the birth of the Babe in Bethlehem? The angels celebrated the birth of Christ...and I do, too. I completely understand the disgust at the commercialism of Christmas, and the materialistic sewage that permeates everything around us. I hate it, too. I know Scripture doesn't speak to us of decorated trees and frosted cookies. These are the cultural traditions of men. But this is the time of year when the unsaved world finds themselves "celebrating" a day that exists because Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. We have a unique, once-a-year platform to share with those around us precisely what Christmas is. My family feels that our participation gives us an opportunity at this time of year to reach out to a world that is desperately empty and seeking, to people who are trying so hard to find that "meaning" in Christmas that they perhaps knew 40 or 50 years ago but that is now lost, and they cannot find it because all they have are the stores and the stuff...and they are longing for something more. We have the opportunity to show them something else.
So, about 5 years ago, we made a change in our Christmas, in order to bring the focus back to where it should be, and to demonstrate to our unsaved relatives, in a tangible way, a different kind of Christmas. May I say, it has made an impact on everyone. Instead of getting caught up in shopping for gifts at the malls, we decided to give gifts that would change lives, in honor of those for whom we bought gifts. We purchase and give the "gifts" in the name of Jesus, praying that He would bless the actual receiver of the gift (a stranger to us in this life) as well as the loved one in whose honor we purchase the gift. Here are three of the life-changing gift options that we like to give as Christmas gifts to our family and friends, as well as to our own children:
For Christian relatives and friends:
Give the gift of partnership in providing God's Word to unreached people-groups, in their own native language, with Wycliffe's Gift Catalog. Bob Cresen, President of Wycliffe Bible Translators, USA, writes, "You will find 18 opportunities to be involved in sharing the Good News this Christmas— the Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ. That wonderful message still needs to reach many people in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America who, much like the people of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, are still waiting to hear the Good News message. What an incredible privilege God has given us to bring them the message of salvation in the language that speaks to their hearts!"
For both saved and unsaved relatives and friends:
Help Operation Smile provide life-changing surgery for children with facial deformities...this is a dramatic Christmas gift to give in honor of your own loved family members, and is one of my favorites! One year, we purchased one complete surgery for a child for $240 and "gave it" to each member of our extended family (there were 8 family members and friends who "received" this gift...our budget at that time was $30 per person/couple). Other times, we've purchased a smaller portion of a surgery, and have given that as the gift.
Give the gift of partnership with Heifer International in providing the way for a lifetime of food, income, self-sufficiency, and community for people in need. What fun for your loved ones to open your gift card and find out that, thanks to you, they've given a water buffalo to a needy family in Africa!
Each year we give a gift of a Heifer animal to our children as one of their Christmas gifts.They love to learn what kind of animal they're getting each year! More imporatnatly, they've learned the truth of the old saying, "'Tis better to give than to recieve." Heifer makes "giving" just as much fun as "getting."
If you and your family are looking for a better way to "do" Christmas, don't just throw away the entire holiday...throw away the world's intrusion on it, and get back to a practice of using what you have to bless someone in need, to give of your abundance (if you live in the US and have a warm home and food this November/December, then you have an abundance compared to the rest of the world...watch some of the videos I've provided) and change the life of another soul you will never meet this side of Heaven. Ask God to use your gift to open that person's heart and mind to the Good News of Christ's coming to Earth to save them, and ask Him to send a believer to that person to share this wonderful news!
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