Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Horse, Your Breath Stinks and I Don't Like Your Gift!

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Rom. 6:23

Annually our Sunday Bible Study Class partners with The Boys and Girls Club of Tyler for a Christmas outreach.   Each couple in  our class draws a child's name and then puts together a bag of clothes, toys, toiletries and a Bible for him or her.   One day in mid-December we bring the bags to an after-school program at Douglas Elementary. We eat, play and sing songs with the kids and then present the kids with their gift bag.

This year Megan and I shopped for a boy named  Kieth spending time, thought, energy and money on his bag.   We looked forward to the event all week long.  But when the day arrived and  it came time for Kieth  to open his bag, our (assumed) joy turned to grief when he was underwhelmed to say the least with our gifts.   The 9-year-old, Kieth, looked up at us and said, "Why'd you get me all this?  Didn't you read my list?  I really wanted an X-Box!"

Later as Megan and I recalled the event we both expressed frustration with Kieth.  Why didn't he appreciate our gift?  How could all we'd done be lost on him?  These questions led us to pray for Kieth and do some much-needed introspection of our own.

Maybe we'd wanted too much to have Kieth cry with joy and wrap his arms around us like Tiny Tim who hugged the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickins' A Christmas Carol.  Perhaps deep down we assumed Kieth's response would affirm us as benevolent givers, as generous care-takers of those less fortunate than us.

But much more indicative of my own sin nature was Kieth's reaction. It revealed a piece of my heart that I like to keep hidden.   Far too often I'm unappreciative of what God has done on my behalf in His Son, Jesus; I carry on with life assuming I know better what I need than God does.   Are we not all prone to grumble about the life we have?  At times, and to varying degrees, all of us, like Dickens' Jacob Marley, are held in bondage by our assumptions about the life we "ought" to have been given.  In reality The Christian has been freed from such illusions but often times feels more comfortable "in chains" (can anyone say recidivism?)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 
- Gal. 5:1

Encountering ingratitude in others should only serve to remind us of our own all-too-typical posture of entitlement - a gargantuan barrier to authentic thanksgiving.   Apart from The Holy Spirit we are all like spoiled children.   King David wrote that if we truly understand who God is we'd seek Him with our whole hearts.  But alas we just don't get it. .....

God looks down from heaven on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.
Everyone has turned away, they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
- Psalm 53:4-5
God's Christmas gift to us was one of mercy because we deserved wrath.   But instead of wrath we received a gift we never realized we needed.  God's Christmas gift to us was one of grace in that we did nothing to merit Him becoming the unthinkable - a miraculously vulnerable child.   A child who would one day become the Savior of the world.  

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 
- Rom. 5:15

May we all be so moved by God's love for us in Christ that we pray for the supernatural power to truly appreciate it.  In doing so He will overflow from with in us and the world will be filled with His glory.  I like the way Sam & Dave say it....

You didn't have to love me like you did
But you did, but you did.
And I thank you. 
- Issac Hayes & David Porter

Merry Christmas!

This Week:

Tuesday - The Magills play in Longview (private event) - please pray for open hearts!

* Wednesday - Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
  TOMORROW MORNING!  2nd Annual Christmas B'fast at Washmon's Workplace
   516 S Spring Ave, Tyler, Smith, Texas 75702 

*  Saturday  - Celebrate the birth of Christ with Deep Gratitude for His birth,
    death, resurrection and ascension!

Support B3 Ministries HERE!

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