Gifts That Make A Difference - Part 3

Over the past couple weeks I've shared various alternative Christmas gifts that can really make a difference in changing the world in which we live. Today, I want to share one more way that you can use your Christmas gift-giving to make an impact in our world.

One way that you could make an incredible impact this Christmas season is to give to a church plant. Al around the world God is doing incredible things as men of God step out on faith to start new churches and reach people that no one else is reaching. These men and their families risk everything in order to share God's love and hope with people who are far from God. I am a huge fan of church planters because I believe Jesus is a huge fan of church planters. I believe he delights in their risks and is honored in their obedience. So what better gift to give at Christmas than the gift of hope and salvation to others by supporting a new church? Check out the churches below. See what they're doing to reach people in their community. Pray for the pastors and the churches they lead. And then give. Give a gift in honor of a friend or family member. Get your Bible study class or small group at your church to give one of these churches a financial gift for Christmas this year. Support these pastors and these churches and help them reach those who no one else is reaching...because by doing that, you're giving the gift of Jesus in a tangible way to those who've never experienced his love. Here are some great pastors and church plants I'd recommend you give to:

When you give to support your local church and when you give to help plant churches, you are literally helping to give the presence of Jesus to a hurting world. I can't think of a better, more fitting gift at Christmas than that.


Gifts That Make A Difference - Part 2...

For the next few days I'm sharing Christmas gifts that really make a difference in our world. (You can read part 1 here.) 2,000 years ago, Christmas changed the world...and it still can. If we look beyond our own consumerism and look at our world with compassion, Christmas can really change the world.

Think about it: Will your Aunt Gloria really wear that butt-ugly sweater you're gonna' get her? Does your cousin really need another coffee cup warmer? What if you gave gives that impacted the world in their honor, instead of wasting money on something they didn't need?

What if you bought them a goat? Or maybe your more of a chicken-and-ducks-giver? What about some seeds to plant or an education? That's exactly the kind of gifts you can give through World Vision. If you've never heard of this organization, then check it out here RIGHT NOW. They have an amazing Christmas gift catalog that is full of gifts to give in someone's honor or memory that are literally changing the world. A goat to a hungry family in a third world country means an ongoing supply of milk, cheese, and yogurt. Chickens provide a sustainable source of food, while allowing the recipient to share newly hatched chickens with others in need. Or you could provide education for a child in need...for only $32. Whether you want to feed hungry kids, provide clean drinking water, further a needy child's education, or send medical aid to a village in need, World Vision is your place to find Christmas gifts that matter.

Let's be honest: You know that fruitcake that you give tastes terrible anyway. So head over to World Vision's website today and give a gift that helps Christmas change the world.


10 Ways To Teach Your Kids The Real Meaning of Christmas...

1. Start a family tradition of reading the Christmas story together. The story of Jesus birth can be found in Luke 2 and reading this story together as a family is a great way to make sure you’re focused on the true meaning of Christmas.

2. Involve the entire family in setting up the Nativity Scene. You could even do this while reading the Christmas story as a family. And if you’re worried that your children are too young to handle your antique Nativity set passed down from generation to generation, you can find kid friendly nativity sets at your local Christian bookstore and in many toy sections of department stores. Fisher Price even makes one that can be found here.

3. Attend a Christmas worship service together. Christmas is a time when we should focus our minds attention and our hearts affection on Jesus. Don’t let the busy-ness of the season rob your family of spending quality time worshipping together.

4. Play Christmas music in your home that focuses on the reason for the season. Sure, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer is musical genius. But be sure to include Christmas music in your home that communicates God’s gift to us in his son Jesus.

5. Give to others. If you know a family or child in need this Christmas, adopt them and shop for them as a family for Christmas. If you don’t know anyone personally who might be in need this year, then check out your local Angel Tree, or something like it, and adopt a child for your family to provide for.

6. Give alternative Christmas gifts. Let’s face it: Uncle Johnny doesn’t want that ugly sweater you’ll buy at the last minute anyway. So check out ministries such as World Vision, Advent Conspiracy, or Charity: Water and give a meaningful gift in someone’s honor. Then use this opportunity to talk with your kids about the difference between compassion and consumption.

7. Adopt a new strategy for giving your kids gifts. Nothing sends more mixed signals to our kids than when we say Christmas is about Jesus, but then turn around and make it about how many presents they can get and how much we can go in debt doing it. Come up with a better plan as parents to use even your gift giving as a way to teach your kids the real reason for the season. A strategy I heard recently that I really liked was a couple who give their kids four gifts: “Something you want, Something you need, Something to wear, and Something to read.” Love it.

8. Visit your local nursing home or an elderly neighbor who is shut-in or might not have family close by. Take some cookies or a basket of fruit and give the gift of your time and presence to someone who might be alone this season. Christmas is all about God making himself present among us through his son, Jesus. As a family, practice presence this holiday season by being present in the life of someone who may be overlooked by others.

9. Have a birthday party for Jesus. On Christmas day, before anyone opens gifts and begins to play with that new toy or video game, begin by focusing on the best gift of all: God’s gift to us in Jesus. You can even go all out with a cake, candles, and a family sing-along of “Happy Birthday to Jesus.”

10. As a family, make gifts and cards for friends and other family members. What better way to promote giving, family, and togetherness than to make gifts and cards for your friends and family. You’ll save money, your gifts will mean more because they’re from the heart, and your family will grow from the time spent together.

Regardless of how you choose to teach your children and teens about the true meaning of Christmas, be sure that you at least do it. Don't be reactive in teaching you're kids what Christmas is all about. Be intentional. Be proactive. Use this incredible opportunity to let your kids see God's message of hope: that He loved us so much, He sent his son Jesus. That's what Christmas is all about. And as parents, it's our responsibility to make sure our kids know the real reason for the season.


Gifts That Make A Difference - Gift 1...

For the next couple weeks I'm going to be sharing some Christmas gifts that can actually make a difference. Because let's face it...no one wants that ugly tie that you're going to buy at the last minute anyway. Last Christmas, through some friends, I discovered this movement called Advent Conspiracy.

Advent Conspiracy is an international movement restoring the scandal of Christmas by substituting compassion for consumption. It operates under one premis: Christmas can still change the world...just like it did a couple thousand years ago on the very first Christmas day.
So for the next couple weeks I'll be sharing some alternative Christmas gifts that really can make a difference in our world. Whether you're shopping for that person who has everything or the family member who's just so hard to buy for, consider checking out some of the charities and ministries you'll find on this blog in the next several days.

First up, check out Advent Conspiracy here and their charity Living Water International here. And after you check that out and consider providing a cup of clean drinking water to those who don't have access to it, check out this video from Advent Conspiracy:

So what about you're idea for an alternative Christmas gift? Are you doing something this Christmas that is making a difference and moving from consumption to compassion? If so, I'd love for you to share about it by leaving a comment and letting us all know how we can help.