Gift Giver

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Spreading Kingdom Cheer For All To Hear

I wanted to lighten the mood and communicate some truth through this next piece entitled Santa.  There are some really healthy concepts we can take from the fairy tale relationship society has with Santa that would be correctly applied to God.  If this offends you, you should probably stop reading this and do something else that makes you happy.  🙂

Here we go.  For some reason Santa always is depicted as the nice guy, he’s in a good mood!  God, however, he’s the scary guy.  He’s the mean, tight-fisted, we gotta perform for him to get us to love him guy.  Santa on the other hand loves us all unconditionally.  He doesn’t put anyone on the naughty list because he wants to, its just what he’s gotta do and that’s on you.  God on the other hand sometimes get depeicted as delighting throwing people in a hell they deserve.  That that kind of justice makes him happy inside.  Mr. Cruel.  😦

Joy, abundance, generosity, celebration, warmth, comfort, safety, color, wonder, awe, love, and all those other things so many people associate with the idea of Santa and Christmas all come from God, that king born in a manger.  He’s the guy that’s not a stubborn, boring, unfriendly stoic savior.  He nice.  And not only that, he’s funny.  He’s understanding and patient.  He likes you and enjoys your company.  He delights in your creation and is full of wonder of the person you are becoming.  He looks forward to time with you and believes in you more than you believe in yourself.

Stickler

When it comes to giving Santa’s reputation far exceeds Gods.  When it comes to getting something from God, I picture intercession, fasting, declaration, and sacrifice.  When I picture getting something from Santa, all you have do is tell him and sometimes he just knows because he’s that good and nice!  And he always wants to know and give us what we desire just because he’s that awesome!

In my dreams I sometimes have Christmas dreams.  I know God is revealing himself to me as the generous giver of glorious, wonderful gifts.  He’s doesn’t mind the correlation when it raising our expectations of receiving good things from him.  He loves giving good gifts to each of us.  It brings him delight.

People always depict Santa as being for us! He’s on our side, but God, sometimes he likes us, sometimes he likes us less, or at least that’s what people believe!  I’m sorry to say this but Santa didn’t die for you.  He didn’t need to because Christ already did.  If Santa died for you, he would have died, but you would still have needed an incarnate savior.  Santa doesn’t possess within his endless resources the gifts we truly need in this life.

We never question where Santa gets his funding or what his real motives are for all of this generosity.  We never wonder if he has enough resources or enough gifts that pertain to our specific desire.  Availability is never questioned.

What’s In His Bag?

For some reason we put limits on gifts from God especially when it pertains to ourselves.  God can’t possibly have enough joy for each of us, can he?  I don’t really deserve that much joy?  There obviously isn’t enough peace for my enemies and me, is there?  I can’t possibly have peace and health today if I had it yesterday, right, I mean, that’s just not the way God works right?  What does God want from me, what is he trying to do, is he just going to take this thing that I like away? We never just reason that God’s good to us because he’s good.

I’m not talking about God giving us plastic junk (not that he can’t communicate love to us through those things).  I’m talking about our lives being filled with abundance of his goodness and our hearts overflowing with heaven’s wonders.  Goodness no price tag can buy and the stuff rich men long for, sometimes found in abundance among the poor.

I love the Christmas season.  It is a tiny prelude to the abundance of heaven’s eternal warmth, goodness, love, forgiveness, togetherness, sparkle-y-ness and generosity.  Merry Eternal Christ-season.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

Character

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Introduction

God’s kingdom is not found in historical places, modern business enterprises, vast cathedrals, or monuments of education. God’s kingdom is simply and solely made up (in the life we can touch and see around us) of you, of people.  We are the living kingdom of God on earth.  It is not in stuff, or places, but us!  If right now earthquakes shook down all buildings, mountains, and trees, but killed no one, nothing of God’s kingdom would have been shaken. Not one thing would have been lost!

God advances and establishes his eternal kingdom on earth in people. Is he a power hungry egotist? No, he invites us to live in heaven! Our choice! You don’t have to live in peace, joy, love, freedom, or justice! It’s your choice, he just offers complete and total access to all of his goodness free of charge.  Getting back to character.

When you believe God is good, loves you, and delights in you. Things change.  You believe in yourself, you see others greatness, you have value and belonging. This changes our demeanor and reactions and choices to life as it comes our way.

So often the idea of character has died in modern media culture.  But ahh the power of its value continues to live on. So many people have a hard time wrapping their minds around character or really defining it.

What is Character?

Boiled down to our lives, character is how we treat ourselves and one another.  From my personal perspective character is the embodiment of the entire old testament law: “Love your neighbor as yourself” = Your character.

The cool part about experiencing heaven on earth is our daily experience of God’s character. This is what impacts our hearts and minds and changes us.  Who is he, is he really this kind, thoughtful, nice, involved, and actively caring? Yes, he is. Humans experiencing God’s character is what advances his kingdom on earth because it causes us to reflect his lightness.

So often our minds and attentions are called to our external as estimations of our success or value. Our cars, our houses, our jobs, our location, our accomplishments. But to be honest, all of this without possessing good character is empty and pointless. Stuff is stuff! It is not eternal and it does not nor can it give us value.

But your character! Oh, your character! When given the opportunity, God will bring attention to how you are treating yourself or other people, rather than what someone else has done or how things are another fault. We have so much power in how we choose to treat one another. How are you treating people? He values them so much and we get to participate with his love for each individual as much as we choose to allow!

When God says let your light shine it’s your character he wants to shine through! You’re kindness, you’re service, you’re honesty, you’re empathy, your friendliness, your peace-ability.

Not a Performance Scratch Card

Character is not a measuring stick that God wants to hold over you to reveal all your shortcomings. We all have them!  No really!  We all do! But it’s not about stressing out about it or trying harder and harder to love people.  It’s not meant to give you an aneurysm! Spending time with God – living with him actually – causes us to be reminded of how he’s already designed us and who he’s created us to be. We don’t have to work hard at it!  His kingdom in us was given to us fully and completely as a free gift! He loves to give us his kingdom, all aspects of it.

As we live life with him and experience his goodness we are discovering the character of our spirit. We are joy, we are kindness, we are gentleness and patience.  It’s who we are.  Part of the glorious goodness of living in God’s kingdom here on earth is being reminded of our goodness! You are good, through and through. There are no dark spots in you.

Your journey of learning and living is beautiful in its own unique way.  God’s character is revealed in you and through you to others in a way they will never experience it through anyone else in their entire lifetime.  You reveal aspects of God’s nature and character that cannot be replicated by another.  Our character is a gift to others that happens naturally and freely when we come to know and experience God’s!

How Does Character Affect Our World?

Character is actually the strength, or lack of it the weakness, of any nation. Seriously. When the citizens of a town, school, or country have good character, the strength of that body is insurmountable. When character is lacking or weak, any force of destruction will rule the day. There are areas of the world rich in resources but lacking God’s character in its people and poverty permeates the population. A business or government will only stand to the length at which the people who compose it walk in character. Corruption, scandal, selfishness, greed, violence (which are all examples of treating others poorly) will cause any entity to rot from the inside out.

If you want to improve the strength of a business or government you will focus on, teach, and reward positive interaction between the people involved. The most talented artist or celebrity in the world can produce something beautiful but their life will have strife and unhappiness behind it if that talent is not first given a good foundation of character to withstand the temptations of treating themselves or others poorly or with little regard.

Conclusion

Again, this is an entirely unseen area of society. You can look at a photograph of a roomful of people and see what they are wearing, or how they’ve done themselves up, but when the photo is over, how do they treat the other people in the room, or the people they pass when they walk home that night or their family or their spouse when no ones looking?  It matters.  Its important.

Give great regard for your character my friend. More time energy or effort that anything external anyone will ever see. It is the only thing eternal, the only thing God looks at, the only thing he sees. He sees Christ alive in you, living through you, loving yourself and others in a beautiful expansion of his kingdom here on earth. It starts with me.  It starts with you.  It starts with Him.

Character     Covenant     Creativity

Family     Freedom    Gift Giver

Joy    Judgement    Kindness    Trust

Love     Praise      Prayer     Self-love

 

Servant King

Christians in Pakistan

I remember one day in my early twenties sweeping a floor in a soup kitchen for the umpteenth time and using their hand brush while on my knees to get EVERYTHING off the floor and into the wastebasket when I thought I would eventually graduate from service. Ya know, helping people and serving them. Like the cleaning toilets and taking out the trash kind of stuff.

I remember having lofty thoughts of leading something or speaking somewhere or doing something IMPORTANT. Something that would impact the world and make a mark. One day. One day I would graduate from service.

I can tell you now, a decade later — I will never graduate from service. If I will one day lead others, I will lead them into service. If I speak, I will speak about loving God, themselves, and others well. There has been a change but the change has been within me; I no longer hold a desire to move on to something else.

I still sweep floors, clean toilets, and take out the trash. I still wash others dishes, underwear, and throw away their leftovers. I still wipe that rag along baseboard so dust doesn’t make a home, and I scrub tiles in the kitchen so residue doesn’t stay for long.
Jesus never graduated from service, rather he graduated his disciples into service. His last night with them was spent on his knees getting his hands in their dirt and washing their feet. He didn’t have to. It wasn’t because they were worthy of the act. He did it because it revealed the likeness and nature of his father.

He may not have specifically been inviting them into the life of Cinderella, but in part, he was. Every day some of the people I am most impressed with in the world are not on television shows or the radio; they are people cleaning up the bathroom mistake of their elderly father or mother who didn’t quite make it in their feebleness to the toilet. They are the mothers and fathers who faithfully love an adolescent who hates them back and is being self-destructive. They are the beautiful families that serve siblings or spouses who are handicapped and will never live independently from their care or even have the mind or ability enough to say “Thank you.”

Not only does God serve the needy and take care of the poor, he invites us to something even harder. Welcome to not necessarily graduation from service, but maybe the next lesson within it: “27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. […] 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. […] 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, […] Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Lk 6

God never graduated from service. While he was on his knees in front of his friends he was king of the Jews with an unseen crown representing all authority on his head. Jesus was himself called a servant of God, executing his father’s will as his own. His admonishment for greatness was in fact this very thing. “Jesus called the twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mk 9:35

My challenge is to not resent the tasks at hand before you; the tasks for which you don’t get paid, the tasks for which no one notices, the tasks for which you won’t get any online attention. And we can all be leaders, but the manner in which we lead says more than our words do. After all, its ultimately him we can do these things and live this life for. It’s him we say thank you to as we exhale our breath, or gaze upon a loved one. It’s him who sees.

 

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