Archive for December, 2013

Weird Christmas Gifts

December 11, 2013

What do you with those weird Christmas gifts that people give you? Like me, you probably hide them on a closet shelf and pull them out only if the giver comes to visit. Like the blinking wreath that had yellow and orange lights – hardly Chirstmas colors! Or the guy who got a jar of Peg Leg Oil for Christmas. He did not even have a peg leg! What’s the point?

Once I was given a bar of soap on a rope from a youth in my church. She would ask me almost every Sunday if I liked it. Was a little lie to her ok? Or the woman that always gave me a store-bought fruit cake. The first year I opened it and it was as dry and tasteless as sand paper! And the ties…I have been given ties with little horses, ones with wild colors, extremely wide ones and ones with goofy Christmas scenes or those that play musical tunes. Ugh!!

The world’s first Christmas gift probably was seen as out of place or strange. A baby born in a manger… Hardly a place for the King of Kings. He came in mystery, was heralded by angels, greeted by shepherds and wise men brought him extremely valuable gifts. These first visitors understood the depth of the gift. Judah Smith reminds us that this gift put a face on God’s grace. Children recognized the precious nature of this gift and love to be in his presence. The broken and hurting were drawn to this gift of real life.

What will you do this year with this unusual gift? How you respond determines your understanding and experience of the God who wants to give us abundant life.

How Do You See People?

December 3, 2013

I was reading Judah Smith’s newest book, Jesus Is ___. On page 22 he said something that grabbed my attention. He explained that for Jesus, people were not just charity projects. This time of year, to get the Christmas spirit or to assuage our guilt, we look for someone or some project to give to. Our gift is often more about our feelings and needs than the one we are seeking to help.

Jesus did not see people as projects. He saw them as individuals. He listened, extended compassion and delivered unconditional love. He wanted a relationship with people regardless of their status: sinner, saint, tax collector, prostitute, prodigal, wanderer, gambler or thief. He was a good man who chose to hang with bad folks – people caught up in sin, just like me and you.

As long as I have known my wife, Meri, she has had someone that she was helping. Not just with food and clothes but with love and attention. She drives them to doctors, gathers books for their children, talks at length with them and invites them to worship with her. My son and I refer to them as mom’s “project.” But they are more than that. She meets them on a personal level and God uses the relationship to bless them and her.

Years ago I had a politician in one of my churches. People labeled him as slick, calculating and ambitious. I spent time with him and really enjoyed his company. I learned he had an honest, seeking relationship with Christ. I also learned that his wife directed a shelter for abused women that no one knew about. They never used it to promote his political career or to inflate his reputation.

Too often we dismiss or write folks off. We even write ourselves or our futures off at times. Jesus does not do this. He sees your potential and offers you grace. He wants to be a friend with people just like you.