Christmas Opportunities

I’m blogging with a purpose here today. 

I think most of us are familiar with Salvation Army, Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree (all of which are wonderful outreaches which I highly recommend), but I am wondering what other opportunities are you aware of to reach out to others at Christmastime?  I’m looking for opportunities to look beyond the consumer-driven mindset of buying “stuff” to invest my time and dollars in a way that invests in the lives of others and the Kingdom of God.

Here are a few that I really like that I’ve run across lately, but I am excited to learn what others have found:

1.  (LOVE this one)  Living Water International Gift Card:  your recipient enters the numbers from the gift card on their website, then gets to choose how that donation is spent.  He can choose to spend it all on one project or divide it up among several.  Also a bonus, LWI offers physical gift cards that they will mail to you or for the last minute shoppers they offer electronic gift cards.

2.  Voice of the Martyrs offers a Christmas Care pack for $25 which provides a Christmas Care Pack for a child who lives in an area where Christians are persecuted.  They also offer a Village Outreach Pack for $75 which supplies an evangelist with a small library of materials.  (I can look over my shoulder at a not-so-small library of materials which ministers to the village that lives inside my house and maybe my circle of friends…every member of my family has his or her own Bible and I am struck with the responsibility of such wealth.)

3.  I have recently become acquainted with Gospel for Asia.  This year, they are offering Gifts from the Stable, Gifts for the Poor, Gifts of Outreach, and Gifts for Missionaries.  You have got to go check them out.

4.  Kids Around the World is a local organization which ministers to children all over the world through building playgrounds, training children’s workers, and feeding children.  They have a few fun items for sale and each item specifies how many meals are provided with your purchase.

5.  For $35, you can provide one person with a lifetime of clean water through Persecution Project Foundation’s 100 Wells Project.  In return, you can choose either a T-shirt or a lovely blue bracelet for your gift recipient.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what ways your family has found to look beyond the “stuff” at Christmas.  I am excited to learn how we can keep it real this year!

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The Palm Sunday Mistake…

From Matthew Ch. 21:

The Triumphal Entry

1 When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3 “If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4 This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet : 5 “SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION, ‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU, GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY, EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’ ” 6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7 and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8 Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road. 9 The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David ; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD ; Hosanna in the highest !”

The Crowds shout “Hosanna!” and rightly cheer on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem; but their eyes are still dim and their hearts are not yet given new life and by Friday these same Crowds who praise Him will scream with blood lust for His crucifixion.

“Hosanna” literally means “save now” and that is what the Crowds wanted.  They wanted a little-k-king to ride in on his war horse and deliver them from Roman rule.  What they missed was that Jesus was, is, and ever shall be the KING of KINGS who came to deliver them from their sins.

So as we enter this Holy Week 2011, I am pondering how often I make the Palm Sunday mistake and cry out “Hosanna!  Save Now!” begging, sometimes demanding, that God save me from my circumstances; when my real need is to be saved from my sins.  It is far less pleasant to think about, but far more needful.  Have your way in me Lord Jesus!

Dragon Scales, New Clothes, and a New Year’s Prayer, part 2

I didn’t know that there was more to the story when I wrote yesterday, but God is so loving, so faithful, gives such good gifts to His children…

Last night, I was finally able to listen to the replay of session 2 of the Passion conference with Beth Moore as the speaker.  She spoke these words…

“Whatever (God’s) called you to do, it’s more than you CAN do.” 

She was speaking of the necessity of us to fully rely on the Holy Spirit in order to fulfill our calling in Him.

I cannot tell you what joy these words brought to my heart.  I cannot tell you how many times I have cried out to God recently “I can’t do this!  I am too small!  Did I miss you?”

And last night He whispered back to me, through a woman who would not recognize me if we passed on the street and yet in Christ, we are one…

“No, my darling, you did not miss Me.  I have you right where I want you.”

My Lord and my God, I would rather walk hard paths with You than easy ones apart from Your hand!

Dragon Scales, New Clothes, and a New Year’s Prayer

I’m watching the Passion Conference on the internet this morning.  The speaker, Louie Giglio, spoke these words, “Lord, eliminate in me the desire for anything which ultimately does not matter.”  These are not easy words.  They are not flippant words.  They are words which cut deep and shine a bright light in dark corners of my heart.  They are words, which if I am courageous enough to pray them, bring incredible hope for the coming year.  They put me in mind of the following passage from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis:

 “The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain in my leg. but the lion told me I must undress first. Mind you, I dont know if he said any words out loud or not.

I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins. Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means. So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and , instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

“But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

“Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good.

“The the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm…

“After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me – (with his paws?) – Well, I don’t exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes…”

New clothes…New clothes…(He) dressed me in new clothes…

 “3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6 And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.”  (Zechariah 3:3-7 ESV)

1/3/11:  And this one the Lord drew my attention to this morning:

” I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  (Isaiah 61:10)

 In many ways, 2010 has been a difficult year.  Like Eustace, I have had so many layers of scales that needed to be peeled away, and it leaves one feeling very raw.  I have come face to face with my utter smallness, my undeniable inadequacy, my absolute need for God in all things, but it is here that God proves Himself most faithful, most tender,  and meets me every time.

 “Lord, eliminate in me the desire for anything which ultimately does not matter.”

 And my mind is directed to another passage from the Bible:

 “in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”  (Phil. 1:18b-24)

 To live is Christ, to die is gain…My desire is to be with Christ, for that is far better…Oh yes, Lord Jesus, may 2011 be the year of Your return, for day by day that is what I increasingly long for.  If, however, You should tarry, please strengthen my arm to the task and let me be found faithful in whatever work You have for me to do and peel away the desire for anything which ultimately does not matter.

The Truth About Everything

This commentary on Good Friday is by Chuck Colson and is posted on Breakpoint’s website:

By Chuck Colson
3/21/2008

Death on a Friday Afternoon
Easter for many of us is a day of family gatherings and a celebration, not only of Christ’s resurrection, but also the coming of spring. Today, on Good Friday, let’s not rush the celebration before coming face-to-face with the paradoxes that are at the heart of the Christian faith.Those paradoxes are the subject of a wonderful book Death on a Friday Afternoon: Meditations on the Last Words of Jesus written by my friend Father Richard John Neuhaus.A paradox, as G. K. Chesterton famously put it, is “Truth standing on her head to get attention.” Our aversion and resistance to truth is so strong that God often finds it necessary to employ extreme measures to get us to see past the lies we have embraced. Continue reading

To My Husband on Valentine’s Day

valentine2.jpg

 

 

 

The example you set of love in action on a daily basis humbles me.  You truly follow Christ’s example of laying down your life for me in a million little ways every day.  You may not think I notice them, but I do, and they make me Want to be a better woman and a better mother, better wife.

 I could not imagine a better life than the one I have with you.  There is not another woman in the world with whom I would exchange places, even for a day.   And after all these years, it still makes me giddy to think that out of all the women in the world,

            You                         Chose                                    Me. 

A Valentine’s Poem

valentine.jpg  Here is a Valentine’s poem sent to me by my friend Linda.  Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

Jesus does not send perfume To linger in the air
 Instead He sends salvation, sweet To show how much He cares.
 He doesn’t bring me candy hearts In boxes of delight
 Instead He always lets me know I’m precious in His sight.
 He doesn’t pass out pretty cards Trimmed in shades of red
 Instead He gave His life for me His precious blood was shed.
 He doesn’t hand out fancy gifts Like we would send to mother
 Instead He sends a message clear To always love each other.
 He doesn’t give me teddy bears That whimper, please be mine
 Instead He gave His heart to me I wear it all the time.
 He doesn’t give me roses, pink For all the world to see
 Instead He gave eternal life That’s good enough for me.