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When Christmas Gets Radical! Who’s Birthday Is It Anyway?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog by Ann Voscamp, one of my new-found Christian blogging friends. She gave me permission to re-post a portion of her message here.

Ann is married to a farmer and the couple has six children, which Ann home schools. How and when she finds time to write and blog is one of those mysteries of the universe. Ann is an accomplished writer. She writes for DaySpring’s site, (in)Courage, is a contributing editor for The High Calling, with articles in ChristianityToday.com and The Beacon.  “Now and then, I stand before microphones and pray hard before I speak,” she said.  “I scratched out words in an award-winning series for curious kids, A Child’s Geography (Knowledge Quest Press, 2007), of which all profits are donated to Compassion. To read the rest of her story, follow this link to her blog after you read this special Christmas message.  I believe some, if not all, of the photos here she took as well.”
Enjoy.

It’s been over ten years of nothing under the Christmas tree here.

Strange, the way children teach men.::

It was dark, I do remember that. Bedtime. Smoothing back hair, kissing foreheads.

One round moon hanging large outside the window, an ornament dangling off stars, decorating the night.

I had gifts to wrap. So, pull up the blankets. Prayers. And then, when I’m at the door, one hand on the door

frame, resting in the light of the hallway, I turn to close the door a bit on the dark.

He stops me with just one question:

“What does Jesus get for His birthday?”

The words hung… strung me up.

I say the words into the black. Um… A cake? Our love?

I can hear him turn again in the bed, roll over on the pillow. Restless…

“But Mom…. if we get wrapped presents for our birthdays, real sacrifices from people who love us — they gave up other things to give something to us — then why don’t we do that for Jesus’ birthday?”

I stand at the door looking into all that light cast down the hallway.

Why is the sky blue, why do we blink, how do clouds hold all that water, the children ask me a thousand questions and the world spins dizzy on a million questions I don’t know the answers to.

I stand in the dark, the light right there, and I grope for the answer that could change the world…

“Why don’t we give up things so we can give to Jesus for His birthday?”

Is it always this way, that a little child will lead them?

He was four or five that year, I can’t remember. I just know that now he’s fifteen and I stepped out into the light and we’ve done all the Christmases since his way, giving away. It’s not at all wrong to do it differently, but just for us… all the Christmas gifts — gifts for the Christ Child.

I shamefully confess I thought it would somehow make me sad. I am a very slow learner.

How could I have thought that only love under the tree would do anything but make our happiness flourish?

The Birthday Child tells us what He wants: Give to the least of these and you give to Me.

So this is how we do it: We pick out gifts from His gift catalogues — Compassion Catalog, Samaritan’s Purse Catalog, Partner’s International Catalog, World Vision Catalog, Gospel for Asia Catalog, Mennonite Central Committee Catalog.

It happens after breakfast, each day for the last two weeks of Advent, selecting one gift for He who is Christmas.

They flip pages, deciding on what to give Him today:
“Anyone think we should get a pair of rabbits today?”

“I was thinking mosquito nets. Two. I wouldn’t want to die of malaria.”

“If we buy a seed packet for a family, our gift is tripled.”

“Did you read the story on page 25 about what a difference it makes for an orphan family . . .continue reading Ann’s When Christmas Gets Radical on her site.

Resources:

Compassion Catalog

Samaritan’s Purse Catalog

Partner’s International Catalog

World Vision Catalog

Gospel for Asia Catalog

Mennonite Central Committee Catalog

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Down With Christmas!

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Together

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

An organization functions best when each person correctly accesses his/her gifts, thenjohn ed deploys those gifts as a part of a team effort. Organizations get into problems when some people try to assume responsibilities for which they are not gifted. Another deterrent to productivity is having one person think that his/her gifts are more important than another persons’.

A good model to follow is I Corinthians 12. Paul describes the church as the human body. My body has different parts, such as feet, hands, ears, eyes. My body does not function well if my eyes try to hear or my ears try to see. There is also dysfunction when one part of my body starts claiming that it is more important than another part. Each part is extremely important and essential for my body to function as a coordinated unit.

There is a beautiful example of this recently reported in China. A couple of eco-warriors in China are redefining what it means to work together. Jia Haixa is blind and Jia Wenqi is a double amputee who lost both his arms at age 3. They both found it very difficult to find a job.

In 2001, they decided to engage this basic principle. They began working together planting trees along the riverbank in their hometown of Hebei. Despite the fact that neither one of them could do the work by himself, they discovered that together they could accomplish amazing things. They saw their respective situations not as disabilities but as possibilities if they worked together. The 53-year-olds have now managed to plant 10,000 trees over the last 10 years!

Today they are making a modest living which is helpful to their families, but is also helping to protect their village from dangerous floods. Haixa says, “I am his hands. He is my eyes. We are good partners.” It is amazing what can happen when each person contributes his best gift to the work of the entire organization.

Working together is the “together” that makes for success. Sir Thomas Beecham, the eminent conductor of the London Symphony, on one occasion was the guest conductor in another venue and was frustrated with the seemingly undisciplined group of musicians. During the rehearsal the concert master asked Mr. Beecham how he wanted a particular section played. After a long pause, and with great emphasis, he replied, “Together!”

We may not have it all together, but together we have it all!

John Ed’s blog posts appear each week in For His Glory.
Contact: JAM Executive Suite 4,4131 Carmichael Road, Montgomery, AL 36106 Phone: 334-270-2149 Email:info@johnedmathison.org

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Preparing For Your Calling–God’s Blessings

This is the fifth post in the series
By AmandaBeth, Guest Blogger And Author

Preparing For Your Calling — God’s Blessings

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

—2 Timothy 2:20

This is the fifth message in my series on preparing for your calling. Follow this link to read previous posts in this series Continue reading

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Top 10 List — What Orphans Want For Christmas

Most kids today want more stuff for Christmas. Stuff like video games, Ipods, CD’s, designer clothes, sneakers, money, concert tickets, Wii’s, and new cell phones top many kids’ Christmas wish lists.

But if you ever visit an Eastern European or South American orphanage their wish lists would look vastly different.

Here is a list of the top 10 things orphans in these places would love to have for Christmas. They would say they want . . . Continue reading