Dec 14, 2010

Does Our Giving Have Strings Attached? - An Evaluation of Christmas Gifts

I saw a sign at a coffee shop today that said Think Like Santa, Be Like Santa.  It got me thinking about what that would look like. Now, I know that their point was for me to buy the stuff on the display and then to give it to other people, but it made me think about it deeper as the day went on.

In the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town we are told to be good, not pout, and even not to cry.  Why? Well, the easy answer is to keep kids out of their parent's hair by giving them an incentive to do good, but the real answer separates Santa Claus from the true meaning of Christmas.  Don't get me wrong I am not a Santa-Basher.  I understand the validity of giving gifts.  After all God gave us Jesus, the Wisemen gave Jesus gifts, and gift giving can honor the entire tradition.  What differs is why we are giving.  Is it because they are good to us, or because we love them?  Is Christmas a time for legalistic strings attached giving, or selfless love expecting nothing in return?

Before Jesus came we were under the law (a system of dos and do nots).  This system allowed people to see that we could never be good enough without God's direct intervention.  This is what Christmas is all about.  Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  God did not give us a gift because we had been good, but because we had been bad.  

We were God's enemies without his gift.  Romans 5:10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.  The good news is that God does not hate his enemies like people do, but instead  he has love for them.   Matthew 5:44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  And his love is the very message of Christmas (John 3:16). 

This Christmas let us remember that he sees us when we're sleeping, he knows when we're awake, he knows when we are bad or good and he loved us enough to give us the gift of eternal life anyway!  Now that is the Christmas spirit.  Would you give your enemy a gift for Christmas?   Think about it, God did it and it changed the world.  

Luke 6:32-35
“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.

What would change if we lived that way?  Would it change you, your enemy, or would it change the world by mirroring what God desires for humanity?

Dec 10, 2010

A Useless Facebook Quiz

I usually hate these things but I am in a weird mood, so I did one on Facebook for about 25 friends who are mainly family.   I thought rather than tagging everyone one at a time I would post the quiz as a blog.  Now you will see all of the inner workings of my mind (or at least some of them).  I am not posting the instructions so you will not be asked to continue the posts but you can answer any of the questions in the comment section.

And now we begin the worst blog you will ever read -

1. What time did you get up this morning?
Oh, well I was off today and exhausted so sometime after 10 (don't judge me)

2. How do you like your steak?
Medium well done (no mooing allowed)

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Tangled (hey, it was for my little girl)

4. What is your favorite TV show?
The Middle, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Office, Clone Wars

5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
Where I am now, Troutman, NC (if I wanted to be somewhere else I would be)

6. What did you have for breakfast?
Honey Nut Cheerios with a banana and some OJ

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
American (seriously, a burger, ribs, steak, fried chicken that's where its at) also Italian

8. What foods do you dislike?
Anything with Mayonnaise 

9. Favorite Place to Eat?
 Texas Inn, What-a-Burger, Kat's Patch (anything that is a hole in the wall joint)

10. Favorite dressing?
Raspberry Walnut (or nothing)

11. Your favorite thing to wear?
Jeans and a Star Wars T-Shirt (also my Jedi robe but shh that's a secret)

12. Where would you visit if you had the chance?
Australia, Italy, Skywalker Ranch, San Diego Comic Con, England, Ireland

13. Where would you want to retire?
I do not want to retire, but if my health forces me too, then somewhere with a mountain view.

14. Favorite time of day?
Night - bedtime stories, then time for Debbie and me to veg out and unwind

15. Where were you born?

16. What is your favorite sport to watch?
    None unless I have to and then it is high school basketball or Major League Baseball.

17. Person you expect to tag you back first?
Whoever is the most bored

18. Who are you most curious about their response?
       I am very curious to see if anyone responds

19. Who tagged you?
      my brother Israel and cousin Byron

20. Are you a morning person or a night person?

21. Do you have any pets?
   yes, a dog, turtle, and a fish

22. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?
   I am writing a book and my nose hair has doubled

23. What did you want to be when you were little?
  A geologist or an archaeologist (yeah, I know I'm a geek)

24. What is your best childhood memory?
Playing outside until dark, building forts, playing baseball etc.

25. Are you a cat or dog person?

26. Been in a car accident?
Yes, my fault, their fault, the weather's fault.  The only injuries have been from the airbag (I hate those things)

27. Any pet peeves?
   LEGALISM! also cell phones in the theater      See my complete list on an earlier blog

 28. Favorite Pizza Toppings?
   All veggies, pineapple,  and bacon

29. Favorite Flower?
 Saliva May Nights, and Daisies

30. Favorite ice cream? 
 Breyer's Sara Lee Strawberry Cheesecake

31. Favorite fast food restaurant?
   Taco Bell, BoJangles

32. From whom did you get your last email?
      Allstate *yawn*

33. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
      Not a fan of credit cards, or maxing them out, but I do like Comic shops, thrift stores, and flea markets (love to find nostalgic stuff and great deals)

34. What are you listening to right now?
   94.1 KLove and MXPX- On the Cover II

35. What is your favorite color?
Black, Brown, and green

36. How many tattoos do you have?
      none (yet)