Blog Archives

Rethinking your Christmas gift list

I’ll admit it: My family creates gift lists for Christmas.  They’re a guideline, not a mandate.  And they serve a useful purpose.  But there’s a problem, maybe two problems with them.

The first problem is that they reduce the surprise factor.  I mean, if the gifts you unwrap are the ones you requested, it’s not super-surprising.  Enjoyable, but not shocking.

But the second (real) problem is that the gifts on the list aren’t the ones we really want.  Yes, we might desire those items, but the gifts that would truly satisfy and surprise us are seldom on the list.  Gifts like:

  • Deep and enduring joy
  • Freedom from destructive habits
  • Profound sense of purpose
  • Life-giving relationships
  • Healing from the wounds that cut to the soul
  • The ability to accept ourselves for who God made us to be

You actually can put these on a Christmas list.  But then give the list to the right person. Give it to God.  Why not spend a little time “wishing” for these things (a.k.a. prayer) from your Heavenly Father?  He is, after all, the giver of all good gifts.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  (James 1:17)

You could use a prayer like this: “Heavenly Father, here are some things I could really, really use right now in my life…”

And as we discovered last Sunday in listening to Mary’s song (Magnificat),

He has filled the hungry with good things.  (Luke 1:53)

I know it’s a busy season.  But all the more reason to seek the gifts that we truly long for.  We need those “good things” now more than ever.

-Pastor Mark

P.S. Keep leaning into the Advent Devotional.  It’s a powerful, simple, daily way to make this a December that’s better than ever.

P.P.S. If you want a jump-start in 2018 for acquiring the kinds of gifts on the list above, let me encourage you to register for our next Rooted Experience which starts on January 16th.  Details are here.

Shopping for God on Amazon

It’s June alright. The heat is on. School is out tomorrow. You can smell the sunscreen and hear the beach calling. And Father’s Day is this weekend.

Father’s Day is often filled with memories…some good, and some not-so-good.  And in many families (like mine) there’s the dreaded challenge of figuring out what to get dad this year for Father’s Day.  (FWIW I’ve resorted to posting a list of links to Amazon products that my family can choose from.  They seem to like the idea even though it reduces some of the surprise element on Father’s Day.)

I’d like to propose a different idea for Father’s Day.  I’d like to talk about a different Father…yes, THAT Father.  Your heavenly Father.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you wanted to surprise him with a special gift this year.  Ties are out.  Cologne is not gonna cut it.  Even the latest cordless tool or backyard grill is a no-go.  What would be a great gift idea?

I’m reminded of a section of David’s psalm when he was trying to figure out what to give God…

You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.  You do not want a burnt offering.  The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. – (Psalm 51: 16-17)

And again the apostle Paul reminds his readers of the best gift they can give…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

In a way this is God’s list of Amazon links.  The gift that puts a smile on your heavenly Father is…YOU.  All of you.  Your heart, soul, mind, etc.  It is the giving of yourself back to God.

Maybe that’s not the way you’ve traditionally celebrated Father’s Day.  But it’s something to consider this year.  Why not make this the year that you give all of yourself…even that secret, dark corner that you’ve held onto?  It will make this a very special Father’s Day indeed.

-Pastor Mark