J. D. Pendry
This time of the year we think of gifts. We hope to be pleased with what we get and we hope that others are pleased with what we give them. Plastic money flies in all directions, our cars are dinged in the mall parking lots and someone inevitably parks their Miata beneath the bumper of the truck. Worried parents cautiously approach the last possible toy store while hoping they’ll find the toy that every kid must have this year. We’ll spend hours shopping for those perfect gifts and a day after Christmas, they’ll be in the return line, stashed away somewhere, or getting less attention from the children than the boxes they came in are.
My bride and I have devised a foolproof system of exchanging gifts with one another. We do not set a price limit, usually. After all, we’re spending our son’s inheritance. Each of us selects a gift we really want and the other buys it. That way, there are no exchanges and what’s purchased is guaranteed to please the recipient. This year, my wife decided that we needed an Italian tapestry of the Last Supper. The Visa card took a gut punch, but I bought it. It looks great hanging over the fireplace. I wanted a sixty-inch plasma screen TV, but Su wouldn’t let me take out a second mortgage on the house for it. This is that usually I mentioned. The plasma screen I ended up with was on a new Palm Pilot and it’s not exactly plasma. We don’t take all of the fun from gift giving, however. We always have a few surprises for one another, but with some rules. For example, I’m not allowed to buy any clothing for her. Jewelry is ok, however, as long as it meets the quality and carat requirements. Perfume that costs the same per gallon as high-octane gasoline is also out. The only rule applied to my gifts is that I must answer yes to all questions about them. “Do you like it?” “Yes.” “Does it fit?” “Yes.” “Will you wear it to dinner?” “Yes.” This is why I usually end up at Christmas dinner wearing a too large red turtleneck with Bullwinkle embroidered on it. Ok, so maybe it’s Rudolph. Fortunately, we have and share other gifts that are more important. They are gifts that have kept us together for 30 years and make oversized red turtlenecks unimportant. These aren’t material gifts.
We focus mostly on material gifts, but it’s the intangible ones that we give others that are lasting. It’s something for every person and leader to ponder. The position, skills and attributes you have as a leader, for example, are gifts to you. They are gifts for you to share with those you lead and those who depend on you. No matter the spirit in which you give them, your leadership gifts have a lasting effect. Use your gifts wisely and give of them freely to those who depend on you. As you look out for others during this season of gifts, remember the axiom of whatever it is you give usually returns to you in multiples.
For all of my brothers and sisters of arms wherever you are serving in the world this Christmas I thank you for the gifts of freedom, safety and peace of mind that you provide my family, my country and me.
May God bless you and be with you and may you have a joyous Christmas.
Copyright © James D. Pendry, All Rights Reserved
PRECIOUS METAL, PERFUME, and PAINKILLER
Paul Schneidmill – The Bunker Chaplain
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:11 NIV
I'm so very glad that we (mankind) have set aside a time and a season to recognize and celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In actuality, He is the Savior of the whole world (mankind). Everybody doesn't believe or realize that, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. There's a holiday that's celebrated each year
on December 25th, called Christmas. The word “mas,” found in the word, "Christmas," is the Middle English word that means, festival, or celebration.
The name Christ, in Christmas, is the name the angel of the Lord related to the Bethlehem shepherds to proclaim His birth (Luke 2: 11). That name means, "anointed one," so therefore, Christmas means, the celebration of the birth of Christ. (You may’ve known all of that, but I felt like I had to cover it because recently, I asked a whole church congregation if they knew what the word, "Christmas" meant, and nobody offered to give me the answer, so....)
I'm also glad there's one particular way that we can celebrate His birth that's exactly like celebrating ones birthday. You may have experienced this act before
on some, or all of your birthdays past - the act of giving and/or receiving gifts. In honor of Jesus' birthday, I'm giving my kids some new Bibles, books, and other gifts I hope they will enjoy. My wife is giving me a new bicycle and tickets to one of the remaining Redskins home games. I'm giving her ... well I haven't actually gotten her anything yet, but I'm going to give her something real special (she's my treasure and I’m not going to forget that, believe you me). "Well, if it's Jesus’ birthday," someone may ask, "Why aren't you giving Him the gifts?" "Because," I would answer, if in fact somebody was asking, "The Post Office doesn't deliver to heaven, where the Bible tells me that Jesus is now positioned/stationed at the right hand of God (Romans 9: 34) following His death, burial, and resurrection, so I give gifts to others to celebrate His birth as a form of demonstrating love to others, as He demonstrated it to me and commanded me to do (John 15: 12), and to show Him that I love Him by obeying His commandments (John 14: 15)." I'm glad nobody was really asking, because that would've taken a lot of time to explain.
Even though many of us may celebrate and give and/or receive gifts on Christmas for reasons other than mine, and even though the designated day of celebration may not coincide with the actual date of His birth, I'm grateful for the privilege of celebrating it. If He had never been born... I'd rather not think about that.
Did you know that He received some gifts on His first birthday? It wasn't exactly on His birthday as many folk have come to believe (He was at least a year old when He got them), but He did get some birthday gifts. He received three special and unique gifts from some very intelligent astrologers, historians, and scientists, who had traveled from the Orient to commemorate His birthday. These gifts were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Some folk have also come to believe that, because there were three gifts given, that they were brought by three men. Wise Men or Kings, as the song says (I've heard that song too and I kinda-sorta like it, but that doesn't mean it's true).
The Bible says in Luke 2: 1, that,” there came wise men (no specific number) from the east to Jerusalem..." We have to be careful about songs sometimes. Furthermore, based on the extremely high value of the gifts, especially and even during those days, three smart fellas would not have traveled two blocks by themselves with that kind of loot. History teaches that even if it were just three men of prominence, they would’ve been accompanied by, at a minimum, a small army for protection purposes. That's why King Herod, the king of Bethlehem at that time, gave this dignified entourage an audience when they showed up unexpectedly on the doorstep of his palace (Luke 2: 1). Anyway, let's define these three gifts:
Some unusual gifts to give a child: Precious Metal, Perfume, and Painkiller. These wise men were descendants of an ancient race, born of incest, called, the Moabites (Genesis 19: 30-37). They had studied and looked for the fulfillment of a prophecy, given by an ancestor of theirs, named Balaam, in the Old Testament (Numbers 24: 17). They had followed a brilliantly unique star from their home in the far eastern region of the world, to the city of Bethlehem, in the region of Judea, to give a child some precious metal, some perfume, and some painkiller. There was of course, a reason. All three gifts played a significant part (though not in the order that they were presented) to His life, death, and resurrection. The frankincense is indicative of the precious ointment/spikenard used to anoint Him in preparation of His burial (Matthew 26: 6-12; John 12: 1-7). The myrrh was mixed with wine (vinegar and gall), and given to Him to ease His agony as He trudged His beaten and abused body up a hill called Calvary, to be crucified (Mark 15: 23; Matthew 27: 34). The gold, now that's the good part. The gold, pure gold, is found on the streets, and makes up the city of Heaven (Revelation 21: 18, 21). He now sits on His throne at the right hand of God, just as He does in my heart.
I'm glad I can celebrate His birth, because if He had not been born, He would not have lived, walked, talked, taught, blessed, provided for, healed, suffered and died and rose again for me, and I would be lost without hope. Celebrate Christmas this year in honor of the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. Give someone, anyone, a gift to show the love of Christ and to honor His being born into this world.
When you give a gift in recognition of His birth, make it as special as it would be if you could actually give it to Him! There’s no limit as to what you can give if it’s given out of a pure heart. You can give someone something as nice as Precious Metal. You can give something as fragrant as Perfume. However, since Jesus is alive now and He lives forevermore, you can hold the Painkiller.
Copyright 2002 © Paul Schneidmill, All Rights Reserved