Tag Archives: presents

Zero Christmas Presents Next Year

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I’m guessing the title of this blog got your attention. How many of you can imagine a #Christmas without exchanging gifts? Does the idea bother you? Yes? Then you’re meant to read on.

Sadly, every year many people see the Christmas holiday approaching and their shoulders tighten. They remember last year’s task of figuring out what to buy everyone, long check out lines, the nervousness of hoping they chose the right gift, and so on and so on. Even before the biggest holiday of the year is actually here they’re already weighed down by unnecessary stress.
It’s really a shame.

I’ve heard on the news many times, “….burgular has stolen Christmas from another family”.

Stolen Christmas?

As a Christian, I have a problem with that phrase. Christmas is not something that can be stolen. It’s the celebration of Christ’s birth. Can you take that from anyone? Of course not. That’s the problem with the zombie-like, “must buy presents” mentality. We’re slaves to materialism!

How about we take the words of Christ to heart? Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need”.

Two things are important here.

First, seek His Kingdom above all else. We need to ask ourselves, “Am I focused on His Kingdom above all else or are presents, people, candy canes, celebrations and lights in the first-place position in my heart?”

Be honest!

Second, notice the verse ends with “…and he will give you everything you need”. Christ didn’t say He’d supply a PS4, a new sports car or a Hawaiian vacation as a result of our dedication to seeking His Kingdom. God is telling us here that our needs are a higher priority to Him than our wants. Obviously, we should mirror His perspective- God first, needs second and then wants….maybe.

Picture a world where this was reality. Instead of long lines at retail stores we’d see those lines at the soup kitchens, waiting to help the needy. People would camp out in front of their Church waiting for Christmas service, not in front of Macey’s eager to get their hands on the latest name-brand purses. Families would not continue sinking deeper into credit card debt. They’d pay cash to buy a homeless family an entire wardrobe instead.

Man, I’d love to see this kind of economic prosperity in our country. Wouldn’t you?

I would love to see a world where Christmas isn’t a source of stress but tranquility, unselfish acts, and the celebration of Christ’s birth.

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The decision to go without buying presents at Christmas can affect your bottom line grately. Think of what you spent this Christmas season on gadgets, gifts, toys, clothes, wrapping paper, ribbons, fuel, time, etc. Now add that number your current bank account balance. Wouldn’t you rather that total be in your account right now in case something major rears its ugly head? Or you could put it towards paying off a credit card, paying on a loan or paying extra on the monthly rent at you apartment. That would be a Frugal Lifestyle decision that helps reduce stress and would eventually lead to financial Freedom.

A No-Presents Christmas also sets an example to the following generation. They’d understnad that God being born as a human baby is the resaon for Christmas. They’d learn to focus on the Ultimate Gift they’ve already been given, not the material gifts they’re expecting.

A no-presents Christmas is also a great way to weed out those “what did you bring me?” people. You know, the ones that are only interested in what they can squeeze out of you? We all have them in our lives. But, telling everyone that there will be zero Christmas presents next year will also expose the cream of the crop. Those who actually care about you will say things like, “Spending time with you is present enough”. Those are the ones you hang onto!

As 2013 comes to a close let’s start imagining a stress free, laid-back, relaxing, Christ-centered Christmas for 2014. After all, we’re celebrating HIS biryhday, right?

Prayerfully consider a “no-presents Christmas”.

Skip the ‘Thank You’, Bring On the #Presents!!

Over the last few years I have noticed a trend I consider very sad. It is something that has developed over time, almost unnoticed, and now it is blatantly set before us. We walk by it in malls and shopping centers and are exposed to it on internet and TV ads. Unfortunately, most are unaware of this ungodly happening because it was so subtly conceived, silently encouraged, nurtured and allowed to mature.

Traditionally speaking, early November is the time of year malls would feature harvest scenery, fall colors and early American pilgrims praying over their stuffed turkeys. This is normally when we’d pause to thank God for the blessings of the last year. We’d go around the Thanksgiving dinner table sharing our many reasons for being thankful and we’d do our best to remember to be more thankful throughout the next year.

(It’s ok…I sometimes forget that yearly resolution too)

As I write this article the date is November 19th, 2013- nine days before Thanksgiving. A few days back I took the picture featured here inside a popular grocery store chain. Do you see the turkey, fall colors and reminders to be thankful? No? That’s because they aren’t there. They’ve been skipped over for the sake of starting the Christmas shopping season early. The ever-important dollar has taken precedence over the attitude of thanks for all we have been blessed with over the last year or so. Instead of department’s stores reminding us to appreciate what we already have, we are being steered towards the “What can I get next?” attitude.

The Importance of Being Thankful

1 Chronicles 16: 8- Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.

God commands us to thank Him for the things He’s given. This is not an option, it’s a command we should take seriously.

Can you imagine a former victim of sexual slavery not thanking her rescuers? Just the thought of it seems absurd, doesn’t it? She has been brought from a life of misery, abuse, hopelessness and sadness. Her gratitude should last a lifetime. She would owe her freedom to those who risked their lives to free her. Every latte’ she enjoyed, every sunset she viewed from the time of her freedom to her last breath would be owed to the ones who considered her so important they could not leave her in bondage. A lifetime of thankfulness is the very least she should show. The same is true for us who have received so much from the Creator.

Not only do we owe thankfulness to the Lord but our thankful attitude will “…make known among the nations what He has done”. Hello! Is that not a great reason to speak about how thankful you are? I know when I hear someone thank their parents for raising them and putting up with their bad attitude it makes me appreciate those parents even though I have never met them.

Who doesn’t get all warm and gooey when they hear of a single dad who raised three girls, encouraging them, made sure homework was completed, worked two jobs while attending night classes, fought off the teenaged hormonal boys and was a living example of manhood to his princesses?

That image sticks in your head.

Our heart goes out to this extraordinary man because his loving sacrifice was so huge and because he did it to benefit the ones he loves. Without even thinking about it we tell our co-workers at lunch, “Hey did you hear about that single father on the news?” Social media eventually picks up the story and it spreads like wildfire.

Now, imagine this happening when we explain how thankful we are to God-the Son- for His sacrifice on the cross. He gave all He could give for us. He rescued us from the consequence of sin- which is an eternity without His presence while in eternal torment.

Should we be thankful? Most assuredly! Because we owe it to Him and because others should know of all He has done.

Mixed Up Priorities

As I mentioned, corporate America has skipped over Thanksgiving so they can offer what they consider to be ‘great deals’ a bit earlier, thus lining their collective pockets with consumers’ hard-earned cash. Money is their priority; we’ve come to expect that from them.

But, where are your priorities?

Are you on the bandwagon, preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday (& possibly Tuesday), sales, discounts, upgrades and other ‘can’t miss’ opportunities to accumulate and collect? Or are you taking the Christ-like approach, refusing to skip over Thanksgiving so you can dedicate time to being thankful?

Your choice is a reflection of where your priorities are. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek God’s Kingdom first.

Q: Is it possible to seek His Kingdom, His Will, His desires for your life, while skipping over thankfulness?

A: Absolutely not!

Part of God’s Will for our lives is that you give Him thanks as 1 Chronicles 16: 8 tells us. Passing up the act of Thanksgiving for the sake of grabbing onto more stuff is the same as looking at your rescuer, remembering what He rescued you from and reaching the conclusion that there is no need to show gratitude! It’s absolutely absurd, disrespectful and ridiculous!

Now, if retail store owners wanted to skip over Thanksgiving because they were excited to celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus, I might be a bit more understanding. But, even if that were the case, it would still be against God’s commandment to have a thankful heart.

So, let’s wait on the Christmas carols, presents, manger scenes and Santa Clause for a few more days. Wait till after you’ve shown proper thanks to the Creator before we move onto celebrating His birthday.