The Christmas shopping season has officially begun. In that light, I offer some gift suggestions to make your shopping experience a little easier this year. Perhaps you will find some things on this list for the special people in your life. And please send me any suggestion you may have to add to this list!
1. Want to make a difference in someone’s life? World Vision, a “Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice” gives you the opportunity to provide an animal for a needy family. Beginning at just $16 for a rabbit, you can help provide a regular income and food for the very poor of the world. You can make a huge difference for the cost of a nice dinner! Check out all their gift options including cows, ducks, and even medicines, clothing and clean water. Online World Vision gift catalog
2. Lutheran World Relief is a Lutheran organization that also “works around the world to end poverty, injustice, and human suffering.” Their Alternative Giving Catalog provides similar gifts as World Vision does, but also includes water filers, fruit tree seedlings, honeybees and school supplies! The President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief is Dr. John Nunes, brother of our youth director, Deaconess Brenna. This is another organization with integrity, working on our behalf for the people who need it the most.
3. How about a special gift for a preteen? I remember reading My Devotions as I was growing up and recommend it even today. The magazine is an excellent resource, pointing children to the God’s Word through stories and situations to which they can relate. Each devotion page includes a Scripture reading, a true-to-life story, and a short prayer. Order an annual subscription (four issues) to My Devotions online through Concordia Publishing House. Concordia Publishing House also offers a variety of classic books for younger children under the Arch Books label. Spanish and Ipad versions are available!
4. Thrilled to Death: How the Endless Pursuit of Pleasure Is Leaving Us Numb. Can too much pleasure actually be bad for us? Dr. Archibald D. Hart explores new research in this thought-provoking volume. This is an excellent book club or Small Group resource.
5. Dr. Hart teamed up with his daughter Dr. Catherine Hart Weber on Is Your Teen Stressed or Depressed?: A Practical and Inspirational Guide for Parents of Hurting Teenagers. This is a great resource for parents struggling with the teenage years. Is the child simply acting like a hormone-raging teenager, or actually suffering from too much stress or even depression? I have studied under Dr. Arch Hart and you will find his advice Biblically-based, sound, and practical.
6. In addition, for the church leader who wants to help a struggling congregation consider this new book. Cure for the Common Church: God’s Plan to Restore Church Health by Bob Whitesel. I am doing some writing now for Professor Whitesel. He is a brilliant scholar, researcher and has a long history of practical experience that does not disappoint the reader.
7. How about a gift for someone who truly means a lot to you? A very special person in your life, but yet you cannot think of (or afford) an appropriate gift for this wonderful person? Give some thought to writing a letter, placing it in a nice card, and sharing it on Christmas. This is an opportunity to share special, meaningful thoughts in ways that a traditional gift can never match. A letter is timeless, as personal and private as you wish, and can easily become the year’s favorite gift.
8. Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) is one of the most effective agencies to reach people in crisis with spiritual, emotional, and physical assistance. One of the first agencies on the scene following super storm Sandy, their annual campaign is underway now. You can designate a gift for a friend, or simply help LCC continue their work. Your gift to LCC will be used for the designated purpose — they are one of the best in our nation among charity organizations providing aid for people in need.
9. How about supporting a missionary? Immanuel supports George and Shary Frahm who serve in Cambodia. Gifts may be designated for Frahm Mission through Immanuel – online or through the offering plate. Or check out other giving options at LCMS.org…simply click on the top header that reads, “Make a Gift”. George and Shary’s work depends on individual gifts — with your gifts, the mission continues!
10. Finally, many people will give to their church at Christmas. As a pastor who depends on these gifts, not only for all the work the church does but also for my salary, I thank them. Churches like Immanuel have struggled during the last few years of this economic downturn. If you are a member of a church, may I boldly suggest that your Christmas gift list include an additional gift to your church to honor or remember someone special in your life? You can designate your gift for any purpose, but please remember that sometimes a gift given “where needed the most” is also very necessary.
See you in church!