Sunday, December 18, 2011

Give Christmas Away - Part 2

My family has gone back to a simple Christmas this year and there’s nothing like it. I mean, really, is this what Jesus wants His birthday to be about? People so busy with parties and shopping and wrapping and baking that they don’t have time for happiness or, more importantly, Him? When did we decide that we “needed” that new toy for our child when half a world away, or sometimes just right down the street, children are just hungry for a real meal, or shivering because they don’t have a winter coat? It’s Jesus’ birthday. That’s what Christmas is. Without that, what would we be celebrating?

I know. I’m guilty of going about it all wrong, too. It hasn’t hit me until now just how wrong it all is. And, yeah, part of me kind of misses the shopping. I can’t believe I’m admitting that. I don’t even like shopping, and I usually do most of it online anyway, but this year is different. I’m in Cambodia, and the internet is so smart that it knows that when I try to buy things and most websites won’t let me purchase gifts online, and since I can’t mail anything out, I’m kind of stuck not being able to do much shopping.

But, really, don’t we go way overboard? A Consumer Reports study just a couple weeks ago reported that over 14 million people are still paying off credit card debt from last year’s Christmas expenses.

I wonder how much of the world doesn’t even know what a credit card is.

I pass by them every day.

I’m going back to a simple Christmas this year. I’ll teach my kids to think of others. I want to take them out and have them pick out something they’d like to give each other, something they put real thought into, if that is possible at age 3 and 5.

But then I want us to think of those who don’t have people thinking of them.

And they are all around me. You might be thinking that it’s different for you, you’re not in a Third World country with trash on the streets and homeless people living in it day and night. I disagree. There are so many around you and I, no matter where we live, that need us. That truly “need” things this year, unlike the way our children “need” those cool toys they see on TV commercials.

So how can we help? And how can we teach our children to “Give Christmas Away” and hopefully instill in them a lifelong desire to help others more than themselves this time of year?

I read a great news article about people, often anonymously, who are paying off people's layaway accounts at K-Mart.  That's amazing.  That's inspiring.  That's what giving is.

I want to go a step further and involve my kids in the giving.

I think back to my childhood. My mom and dad would give me the great big toy book to circle whatever I wanted. I think it was Sears or JC Penney catalogs back then. Now its Toys R Us and Target and even Best Buy where kids are circling what they want. What if we have the kids choose some things they really, really, really want, and then we tell them that they are going to go with us to choose and buy that themselves... and give it away? Wow. What a lesson that would teach, right? It’s not purposely choosing some silly toy that they don’t care about for some faceless poor person but instead making a real sacrifice for those in need.

I’d like to do that with my kids this year. Well, minus the catalog, of course. We’ll have to settle for the little toy stand at the market, I guess.

To make it even better, I want my kids to put that brand new toy directly into the hands of a child who will love it. Along with some clothes, shoes, food, and a brand new Bible. I think that both their family and ours would be greatly impacted by that action.

What if we all did that for a family in need this year?

Imagine if many people joined in and a generation of young boys and girls learned to bring Christ back to Christmas.

Maybe then someday people would be less excited about Santa and more excited about Jesus.

Will you join us? We would love to hear your stories.

'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'     "Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’     “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25: 35-40

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