Christmas is approaching soon and the merchants of America are hoping for a big season. Sales for the holidays can make or break manufacturers or stores. But be sensible. Resist turning this celebration into a mad dash for more stuff. Refuse to use debt that will rob your future.
As a child, two things about Christmas stood out to me each year: our family with mom, dad, four sons, and one daughter gathered around a huge dinner table; and the delightful gifts waiting to be unwrapped beneath the tree.
Later I learned the true meaning of Christmas when I was old enough to read the Bible and I began to understand lessons about Jesus in our church.
In South Africa, Lana and I were surprised to see Christmas trees inside the Sandton Mall in the summertime. No snow there. What do you love best about this holy season? Is it the colorful gifts? Decorating the tree? Visits from distant family? Aromas from the kitchen? Christmas carols?
I love the traditional songs that are sung this time of year. My wife loves to ride through neighborhoods in the evening and see homes with lighted displays. At our church, we just built a large outdoor lighted display with Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus in the manger.
As a boy, my favorite Christmas was when mom and dad gave me a bicycle. What a magnificent gift! I learned to ride it in practically no time at all. The skinned elbows and knees I suffered were a small price that I was glad to pay. On my bike I felt liberated as I took off down the road. Suddenly I could fly!
In October, my church surprised me with a Pastor Appreciation Day. They prepared a meal in our honor and blessed my wife and me with cards filled with thoughtful expressions. Its always good to feel appreciated. We ought to let all the people around us - those who bless us - know that we truly value them by saying words to them spoken from the heart that honor them.
At that meal, one older gentleman, much loved among us, told me how he had just acquired a classic Schwinn adult bicycle. He said he wanted to exercise his legs more. I was a little bit skeptical because I knew his health challenges. But he went on bragging about his bike. "Preacher, come outside with me and take a look at it," he said.
The bike was in the bed of his truck in the parking lot. "Lift it out and let me see you ride it," he said. I did, and I grinned the whole time. "It's yours Preacher! I really got it for you!"
Now every time I ride that sweet bike, I think of the smile on Jack's face as he surprised me with a gift that reminds me of my childhood joy, and I am grateful. Take time today to tell someone that you are grateful for the love they bring into your life.
Take time to tell your Father in Heaven that you are grateful for the greatest gift of all, God's Son, who came into this world to take away our sins and to give us eternal life. This salvation is offered as a gift, not something that you can earn, ever. A gift is proof that someone loves you. So express gratitude to the Giver!
Ron Wood pastors Trinity Assembly of God located at State Blvd Extension and Chandler Road. www.trinitymeridian.com. (601) 483-8189. Hear Ron on the Father's Power each Sunday at 8 a.m. or 7 p.m. on SuperTalk radio 103.3 FM.