As soon as we turn our calendars from October to November, certain radio stations will be playing Christmas music 24/7 and “Black Friday” deals and commercials will dominate our airwaves. So I wanted to get this blog out NOW before all of that happens on the near horizon. So here goes…
Here’s a picture of a jar we have in our kitchen. The label says What Jesus Wants for His Birthday. Below that heading is this mathematical equation:
2 chickens + 1 share of an ox and a plow +
1 share of a dairy cow + clean water = to “help those who need help.”
Here’s the backstory of how that jar came about.
Every year Kellie and I struggle with how to “unplug the Christmas machine.” To get the focus off of everything that our culture has turned Christmas into and to take things back to it being about the birthday of our Lord and Savior.
A week ago we received a “Gift Catalog” in the mail from World Vision. As you flip through the pages it explains the various presents you can buy for the poorest of the poor around the world.
So last night Kellie and I had a “family devotion” time with Faith, Evelyn, and Elizabeth. We got out our Bible and read a portion from the book of James: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:14-16)
We explained to them that since Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, He should get some gifts. (Shouldn’t He???). And we talked about how we give presents to Jesus by helping those who need help around the world.
We explained how kids around the world don’t always have food to eat at dinner time. And when they drink water, it often makes them sick because it has icky stuff in it. So kids who live in those parts of the world don’t want the newest Star Wars or Lego Friends toys under their tree on Christmas morning — what they want is something to eat and clean water to drink.
Think about that for a moment.
Over the next 15 minutes or so we flipped through the Gift Catalog and let each of our kids pick out the one thing they were most excited about giving to Jesus for His birthday. Evelyn chose two chickens. Elizabeth chose a share of a dairy cow (not an entire cow because it was super expensive!), Faith chose a share of an ox and a plow, and then as a family we chose the gift of clean water.
We took out a jar and labeled it. And we explained how mom and dad would use what we call our “compassion fund” (money above and beyond what we tithe to our church) to put into the jar between now and Christmas and that they would get the chance to do extra chores around the house where every penny earned would go into the jar.
Right now we have $0 in it. Our our God-sized goal is $150 by Christmas.
If history repeats itself, they will be jumping at every chance we will give them to earn money. And when they earn it, we’ll give them the coins, get the jar off the shelf, and have them drop the coins in and say, “This is for Your birthday, Jesus.”
This is something we have done for the 3rd year in a row and maybe it’s something you should think about doing (you could purchase another share of the dairy cow or ox that our family is giving towards!). And if you do, put the jar in a high-traffic area of your house. So every time you walk by it, you’ll be reminded of whose birthday it is on December 25th and the gifts that Jesus would love to receive.
P.S. I “borrowed” the title of this blog from a great book I read several years ago. It’s Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide of Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. Click HERE to check it out.
***Satan, Demons, and Unanswered Prayer. That’s the title of this Sunday’s sermon. Have you ever considered the role angels, demons, and the devil himself plays in the outcome of your prayers? Please join us! November 1st (EST). 10:30am. The Eastside Vineyard Church. More info at tevchurch.org***