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Posts tagged ‘Gift’

Nothing Says ‘Merry Christmas’ Like Benevolence.


Indeed, God loves a cheerful giver.
Indeed, God loves a cheerful giver. (Facebook)

Christmas is a time for memories. I always enjoy looking back over the December issues of Charismaand re-reading all of my Christmas-related columns.

Some had to do with Christmas customs; others were about the culture wars to take Christ out of Christmas. Some years, I showed pictures of my staff or my young family and shared my own Christmas memories.

Every couple of years, starting in 1984, I’d urge readers—much as I am now—to do what my wife, Joy, and I have done for years: give a tithe of what we spend at Christmas to the poor.

This was etched in my mind as a child when one Christmas my parents asked my brother, sister and me to pick a gift from the many we’d received and give it to a family in our church that didn’t have much. I don’t remember the details, but I think the father was out of work. In fact, I can’t recall what I gave—but I do remember going to their house to give them our gifts and how happy they seemed.

Christmas is about giving. It’s when God gave His Son. And didn’t the tradition of gift-giving originate with the magi, who brought gifts to the Christ child?

Yet Christmas has become an orgy of consumer spending. Many retailers make most of their annual profit at Christmas time. Even as believers, we tend to get caught up in the world’s values of buying gifts. Usually our purchases are for loved ones who already probably have much more than they need.

The antidote, I believe, is to be proactive, to consciously give to the poor and to encourage others to do the same. When I first urged Charisma readers in 1984, and in many December issues since then, to give to worthwhile ministries at Christmas, it was because I believe that in giving to “the least of these My brethren,” as Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, you’re giving to Christ Himself.

A practical suggestion on how to do this is to give a tithe of what you spend on others. For instance, if you spend $1,000 at Christmas on gifts, determine you’ll give $100. My family does this. Over the years we’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it through Christian Life Missions, our nonprofit partner. If every reader of Charisma gave only $5, it would total more than $1 million this year.

There are many ministries or needs you can give to. It doesn’t matter so much whom you give to but that you give and do it as unto the Lord. We believe it will make all the difference in the way you celebrate Christ’s birth this year.

From all of us at Charisma, a very merry and blessed Christmas to everyone and a happy New Year!

Steve Strang is the founder and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter at @sstrang or Facebook(stephenestrang).


Faith, Hope and Love: Three Gifts That Keep Giving.

girl looking in a big wrapped present
Sometimes the gifts that continue to impact another person’s life don’t come in a box. (© Sonifo

“Let’s wrap up boxes and books and put them under the tree,” my mom said one night. I was six-years-old and didn’t think anything was odd about wrapping up books and empty boxes. I was excited about the idea of spending time with mom who was busy working from early in the morning as a farm laborer. Most of the time she was asleep when I got home from school.

My little brother and sister were excited about the brightly wrapped presents with shiny bows under the sparkling tinsel tree. I realized that the reason we wrapped those gifts is because she had no money to buy presents. I kept that secret until mom told us we would open our gifts after we came back from grandma and grandpa’s house.

Thinking back on that Christmas, she was trying to feed three kids on a farm laborer’s wage. I remember we had to stand in line with food stamps to buy groceries, which was really embarrassing. We had no presents that year from mom but in later years I gained three gifts that have proven priceless over and over again.

“Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

The gift of faith. My grandpa picked us up that day. On the way to his house, a police car pulled up behind him with flashing lights. He didn’t understand why he was getting pulled over since he always drove under the speed limit. The policeman asked him how many children were in the car. He went back to his car and returned with an arm full of presents.

We weren’t Christians but I believed that my mom had faith that something good was going to happen that day despite the despair of trying to feed her children on farm laborer’s wages and the shame of receiving welfare checks and food stamps. My mom became a Christian many years later but she always had this incredible optimism and faith in her.

The unexpected presents from an unexpected source are like the gifts that God brings everyday. We take these gifts for granted — the gift of a relationship, the gift of a job in a bad economy or the gift of a child’s love. “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1 We can carry God’s faith into our holiday gatherings.

My mom taught me to live by faith and that lesson brought me unexpected scholarships that I didn’t apply for to get into college.

The gift of hope. Fast forward many years and I’m college student paying my own way in Hawaii. I have no money to buy presents and my family lives in California. I pray and ask God for creative ideas for presents for my friends and family. I pray for each person that I want to give a gift to and suddenly I get an idea for writing a story about how that person reminds me of a character in the Bible.

Each person receives a story with pictures in a little booklet. Every person I gave that booklet to say that was the best gift they had ever received. Through those stories, I gave them the gift of hope. I gave the gift that they are becoming someone who Jesus intended to them to be. I stirred up the flame of destiny in them through the words on that page. The cost for that present was my time seeking the Lord on their behalf. We can give the gift of hope in this holiday season by being a vessel for Him to speak His words of life and hope to others.

The gift of love. My friend Faith calls me right before Christmas in 1998. I’m fighting depression after my mom died. I’m hopeless and this dark cloud sits over me. I have a wonderful Christian husband, two beautiful little boys, a gorgeous home, and great job but can’t enjoy any of it because of the depression. Faith says she wants to fly me from Columbia, MO. to West Palm Beach to go with her to some revival services.

Right after New Year‘s, I fly to West Palm Beach. Faith takes me to revival services at her church and I receive an incredible touch from God. That time prepares me for my visit to the Smithton Outpouring in February where I’m set free from depression. Hope and faith come back with the love of my friend. Faith gave me the gift of love that set me in the right direction at that time.

Demonstrate God’s love during this holiday season. Love is the engine of faith and hope in action carrying His presence into the room. Call that person who needs His love. Or take them to lunch or dinner. Above all, take action. Don’t let another Christmas pass by without reaching out to that person who has been on your heart.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Give the gifts that keep giving after Christmas – the gift of faith, hope and love.



Leilani Haywood is the editor of SpiritLed Woman and a frequent contributor to Charisma. She is an award-winning writer who has been published in The Kansas City Star, Focus on the Family, Metrovoice Newspaper and many other publications.

8 Ways to Spend Less and Save More This Holiday Season.

Deborah Nayrocker

“Dear Deborah,

The holiday shopping season is here and I don’t want to overspend (again) this year on Christmas gifts and activities. How can I stay in control of spending and not be saddled with credit card expenses well into the New Year? Any money tips?” -Rob

Having a budget is a key factor for spending wisely. Also, treasured gifts that appeal to the heart don’t need to be very expensive. Choosing a gift that shows thoughtfulness is a smart way to shop.

Here are eight ways to tighten up your holiday spending:

1. Involve others. Do you find that your gift list keeps expanding and has grown too big? This is probably true for others in your extended family. Some family members are on fixed incomes and, although they’d like to give lots of presents, are finding it difficult to do so. Many families are increasingly overwhelmed with their monthly bills.

This is a good time to help relieve the financial strain for you and others. Talk to your extended family about making a few changes to your traditions.

Begin by agreeing with others to cut down on gift giving. Agree on a dollar limit for gifts. Consider drawing names instead of buying gifts for each family member. Another option is to pool your money with another family member for more costly gifts.

2. Make a gift list. Set a budget on how much to spend for each person on the shopping list. Putting it in writing makes it easier to follow through on your intentions.

Next to the name of each person and the spending limit, write down gift ideas and clothing sizes. Keep the list with you when shopping to avert impulse purchase.

3. Shop early. Starting early gives you the advantage of finding the right gift for those on your list. Delaying shopping can lead to impulse decisions.

Some people like to shop throughout the year. They look for great gifts that are also bargains. My grandmother kept a gift box in her closet, adding to it throughout the year.

4. Comparison shop. Compare prices at different stores. The Internet has made it easier to research products and prices. Shop online or locally, making use of sales or discounts whenever possible. Some online retailers offer free shipping during the holiday season. Last-minute shoppers may not be eligible.

Keep your store receipts, including gift receipts. This makes it easier for exchanges later on, if necessary.

5. Don’t open new credit accounts. It can be tempting to sign up at the cash register for an immediate 10% or 20% discount. Don’t be swayed by retailer credit cards. They have a higher interest rate that often offsets the discount taken at the register. The discount often comes with a steep price later on, after the thrill of shopping is gone.

6. Pay in cash whenever possible. Pay cash at brick-and-mortar stores. This reduces the chances of overspending. When the predetermined money for gifts is gone, it’s time to leave the store.

7. Supplement gifts with service. Incorporate your time and talents. Add a valuable gift of service to the present you purchased. Create a certificate specifying the service.

Suggestions: For busy parents, give babysitting time. For tired caregivers, give a manicure or offer to help so they can have some free time. Older folks might want help with lawn care or home maintenance.

8. Celebrate the season with low or no-cost activities. Look for ways to make holiday events with others just as special as the gift exchange.

Attend Christmas concerts or programs. Participate in local events that are open to the public. Go sightseeing and enjoy the holiday lights and displays in the city park or on the front lawns. Go Christmas caroling. Have a Christmas play or program, having the children participate in the fun.

People may forget who the gift-giver was, but it’s not likely they’ll forget the experiences of commemorating Christmas.

Christmas can be more about celebrating the season with family. Despite what you may hear, one must not feel compelled to spend a lot on presents to create happy memories.

Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint required.

Deborah Nayrocker writes on personal money management topics, showing others how to take control of their financial future. She is the award-winning author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life. Her Web site is

Publication date: December 2, 2013

{ Day 333 }.

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. 1 Corinthians 12:11, NKJV, emphasis added

Being called into some kind of prophetic ministry is not necessarily the reward for how diligent you have been to seek to mature in prophecy. It’s not even determined by how eager you are to grow in wisdom and character. It is a matter of God‘s sovereign call. The same thing is true with regard to each individual manifestation of the Spirit. We serve a personal God who has His own purposes for each individual. God is not an impersonal force. A Tibetan monk may go through exercises and disciplines, thinking these will help him become an ascended master. But the gifts and callings of God are not primarily based on our striving, seeking, or searching, but they are based on His sovereign choice and His grace. It is not a matter of our efforts to attain or develop spiritual skills. It is all about God’s sovereign calling and God’s gracious giftings.


Father, help me to understand the purpose for the giftings You have given to me. Show me why You have called me to these gifts, and enable me to respond as Your grace gives me strength.

There is a place for diligently seeking to grow in gifting,
character, and maturity. But while diligence causes you
to grow within your calling, it does not
determine your calling.


How to Help Your Staff Develop Their Gifts.

Leading-pastorAs a pastor, you have a lot of responsibilities. When your task list grows, it’s easy to overlook the need to invest in your staff. However, one of the most important parts of leadership development is helping others understand their gifts.

At some point, most of us worked for or learned from a leader who understood this responsibility. And we wouldn’t be where we are today without them. Even if we didn’t have that help, we all understand the value of it and why we should invest in our people this way.

So for all you leaders, here are three ideas for helping the people you lead develop their gifts:

1. Give them a test. The quickest way to help people discover their gifts is to use the resources that have been crafted specifically for discovering strengths and personality. Hundreds of hours have been spent developing these tests, and from personal experience, the results are typically right on. If you’re looking for tests to discover your giftedness, check out this post from my friend Dr. Kent Ingle.

2. Change their role depending on the test results. The truth is that your staff’s current roles might not line up 100 percent with areas they’re naturally gifted. If you want to help them develop their strengths, give them an opportunity to grow and expand in those areas. Granted, there are obviously things that need to be accomplished, but if you provide your staff with an opportunity to explore their gifts, everyone wins: you, your team, and your entire organization.

3. Encourage them. Even though a test might affirm the gifts of your staff members, telling them that you see these gifts as a valuable asset to your organization is extremely important. This is just as critical as helping your team discover their gifts in the first place. Verbal affirmation is essential when it comes to bringing your team’s gifts into light.

I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for leaders who helped me identify where I was naturally gifted and encouraged me to develop those skills. If you want to exponentially increase your impact as a leader, make this responsibility a priority.

What did someone do for you to help you discover your gifts? How are you passing that on to your team?

With over a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and, all while staying involved in the local church. Justin serves as a consultant in the area of strategic relations predominantly working with the Assemblies of God, helping to build bridges with people and ministries to more effectively reach more people. His blog can be found at

For the original article, visit

Written by Justin Lathrop

How to Make Her Feel Special Every Day.

Couple in love
(Stock Free Images)

Men and women will always be different. We like that they’re wired and tick differently. At times, though, it can make our heads spin. But we need to make her feel special and appreciated.

Men think problems out, most of the time on our own. Women like to talk it out with you or a friend. We could spend a lifetime trying to figure out the opposite sex. We could possess all the knowledge from the previous millenniums and still need to explore further.

And while each woman is different and unique, there are a few similarities they all share. And within these similarities there is a recurring theme—it won’t make sense to me or to you, and we won’t be able to reason or rationalize it in our brains.

Then it hit me. I don’t need to rationalize it. All I need to do is understand that women are different and accept it.

Here’s how to understand her and do things for her even when you don’t “get” her.

1. Listen to her and use every muscle in your brain to not think about how you can fix it for her. Think back to the last time you were stuck in a jam and just needed a friend to listen. For us men, this doesn’t happen very often. But when it does, it’s usually after exhausting all other options and we just need a friend that’ll listen.

Women are similar, except that the listening part comes more often. They’re wired differently. That’s why we like them. Women like to communicate. We do too, but they do more. What I mean by this is that topics we find unnecessary or irrelevant could be important to her. This should make it important to you too. We might resolve it in our head, but they’ll talk it out. What we call “venting” might be how she processes and shares with you the events of her day.

When she comes home and shares with you a frustration from her day, try to look at it from the perspective of her wanting to include you in her day and not that she wants you to fix her day. If she wants you to fix it, she will let you know. You might think that if you fix it now, you’ll be saving her from a potential frustrating day down the road. This may be true.

But when she’s sharing her day (aka venting) with you, this is not the time to fix it. If you absolutely feel you need to bring it up, then do so later. Appreciate her venting, and be thankful you’re even a part of her day.

“The greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention.” —Richard Moss

2. Learn her love language. There are only five, so it shouldn’t be too tough. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. If you’re unfamiliar with these five love languages, I suggest you learn about them.

These love languages aren’t strictly for women. We men have them too. For me, it’s quality time. I can remember growing up wanting to spend more quality time with my dad. But he wasn’t there. I didn’t quite realize why it was so important to me until I came to learn that this was my primary love language.

In your relationship, it’s important to know hers. For you, it might be receiving gifts, so you go and buy her expensive gifts. You even did all your homework and planned gifts for a year. Now, if her love language is words of affirmation, then you’re not hitting the bull’s eye. You’re coming close but still missing. I’m not saying she won’t appreciate the gift, because she will. But if you really want to make her feel special, learn her love language.

3. Take date nights. Spending time together comes first. Finding the time to spend together also comes first. I used to think men were supposed to put providing for their family above all else. For those of us that are single, it can be in preparation for providing; studying, workaholic or fill in the blank. It’s called being responsible, or so I thought. I even thought this was what women wanted.

A few years ago, a girl I was dating told me I was selfish. I didn’t get it then. I was being responsible for my own priorities, not the priorities we shared. What I’ve come to realize is that a relationship is like taking a journey together and having an adventure. If you’re absent or not on the path, then you’re not part of the adventure. Being “busy” is no excuse for not making time for the one who is most important in your life. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we know we can create time when it’s a priority.

4. Make up a holiday. You don’t have to follow the calendar to plan a special evening for her. Sure, those pre-decided dates, like anniversaries, help—especially for us men that need to plan things out. Make one up, however, and put it on your calendar—a holiday just for her.

Buy a gift for no reason because women love gifts. It doesn’t matter how grand it is. A little gesture goes a long way. Nine out of 10 guys have a tough time gift shopping. What I try to do is listen throughout the year for gift ideas. Trust me, they do throw hints out there and, if you’re listening, you’ll catch one.

5. Get her a “push gift.” This a new concept for me. My coworker told me about it (he actually gets credit for “date night” too) and said mothers really appreciate it. A push gift is given by a new father to a new mother when she gives birth to their child. Considering she carried and delivered a child, a gift is nothing in comparison, but the gesture will be appreciated. It can be given before, during or even after the delivery room.

6. Do the little things. Take out the trash, put down the toilet seat, create a grocery list if you can’t remember them all, fix the clogged sink, make breakfast or get the kids ready so she can sleep in. Any of these loving gestures will not make you less of a man.

Sometimes we complain about the woman in our life nagging us. For some of us, though, they ask and ask again while we’re watching TV, right after saying we don’t have time. Excuses. No matter how rationalized in your brain, it is still an excuse. Be responsible and fulfill your duty.

Each of these ideas has its time and place. One does not replace the other. Some men only buy flowers when they’ve made a mistake. These ideas are not for that. You will not make her feel special if you do this. You will make her suspicious of you, however.

When it comes down to it, we do the things that make sense to us. We like to do things our way. But what really needs to happen and be understood here is that they’re different and our brains can’t solve that. What we can do, though, is move past it and do some of things we know they like. Treat her right and make her feel special.

We won’t always “get” women, so be thankful this isn’t a requirement to make her feel special, loved and appreciated.

P.S. Don’t be afraid to apologize and say you’re sorry when you’re wrong! Don’t be stubborn and think you’re showing your strength by refusing to admit you’re wrong. It’s not a competition. But if it were, you would still lose. And always remember to say “thank you” and show gratitude, especially for the little things she does every day.

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Giving Gifts Like a Man Should.

Chris Legg

“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or, more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself.”

                Victor Hugo


There are three main features to giving a gift to a woman. They can be summed up in this statement: every gift (including dates, by the way – anything you pay for is a gift, but more on dates later) must say: “I know my wife and I am thinking about her even when she isn’t around.” Or, to put it more succinctly, “I know my wife and I remember her.”

1.  Know your wife – it actually is the amount of thought and preparation that counts for her. It was not a man who said “it is the thought that counts.” However, I often hear about dates and gifts that husbands thought were huge flops, but the wife was overjoyed with!

Once when I challenged a husband to take his wife on a special date. So, he remembered that she had always wanted to visit a restaurant just outside of town and there was a concert he knew she would enjoy. When he came in after the date he was crushed – they drove way out to the restaurant only to find weeds growing in the parking lot. It had been closed for months! Now they had to rush back to town and ended up eating fast food. They got to the concert to discover it nearly sold out and they had to get seats not next to each other, if I remember correctly. They ended up sitting at a coffee shop to discuss their individual experiences of the concert! He was almost too embarrassed to tell me about it. She came in a few days later and described the same date as one of the best events of their marriage! She loved it and gushed about him taking her to the restaurant she had mentioned long ago – and never mentioned to me that it was closed! Then she was so impressed that he had researched the concert and she loved it, and she loved debriefing everything after the coffee shop too! Why was their experience so different? Because their definition of what made a good date was completely different. His was: “Did it go as planned? Was it a date he could brag to others about it?” For her, it was “Does he know me well, and was he thinking about me when he planned it?”

So, how do I learn about her? Imagine that I decided to buy some flowers for my wife. Now, say I wasn’t sure what kind of flowers to get her, so I gathered together a bunch of my buddies for ideas. One says “roses,” another says “daisies,” and another says “carnations.” Whose input is best? None of them are any better than another. However, this is one person in the world who can tell me exactly what kind of flowers my wife would prefer (and I don’t mean her best girl friend, though I will mention her later in gift giving). Answer? My wife. (Incidentally, this analogy works well for explaining why all religions aren’t equal either.) Only my wife knows what kind of flowers she likes best, right? But how uncool would it be for me to call her from the store, “Hey, honey, what kind of flowers do you like?” If you don’t know, then you might need to do exactly that, by the way, because it is much cooler than not getting any or getting something she hates, but there is a better way. Listen and learn. Earn a Ph.D. in your wife – become the world’s expert on her!  It might happen this way… you get her a rose and bring it home.  She loves it, but mentions that irises are her favorites. Don’t be offended (“See, I get her flowers and she still criticizes me.”) Grow up, and take note. Hmmm. Irises. Got it. She is just helping you be great at what you are obviously trying to do – love her – so don’t be offended. Maybe she says “Roses are my favorite – especially the yellow ones.” Good job with roses. Next time, remember, yellow, like a Vogon Warship or a bulldozer is yellow.

Women will generally make comments about their favorites all the time. Watching TV, commenting on other women’s things, (BIG HINT) when she shops for other people’s gifts or sees other people opening gifts!!! Also, make it a habit to shop with them and listen. Stop whining, and don’t sit in the middle of the mall in one of those husband benches – go with her and begin to understand what she likes best. Here are some areas where any great husband must know her favorites:

Know her favorites, and weave them into the gifts. Here are some examples of favorites you must know:


Animal (real and stuffed)

Candy and/or chocolate bar (unless she is seriously dieting)

Board game

Flower (more on flowers later)

Soft drink

Restaurants (and meals at those restaurants)



Jewelry (favorites stones, metals, and symbols)


Personal feature (and least favorite)


Least favorite chore

2.  Listen – and don’t wait. When she notes something that catches her eye – go back and get it asap if you think it is something that will be meaningful to her. I am telling you that this is one of the most important skills for getting good, meaningful gifts (for anyone). Do not wait until it is near an important date to get a gift.  If you are out and spot something that she might like, go ahead and get it. You won’t regret it.

       Give yourself plenty of time to purchase gifts – if you have done II – it should not be a problem. Be sneaky about things – know her better than she even knows herself if you can get away with it. The best is when she had mentioned something to you and then forgotten it herself!

      Also, I am sure you would never forgot a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, but if you did, having a small stash of gifts hidden in your closet that is a good gift rather than a lame gas station gift or (cringe) the old “Hey, I gotta run a quick errand, uhhh, suddenly today…” Put all important events on your calendar, your work calendar, your phone, and anywhere else you can put it. Make sure your friends have them on their calendars too, and that they remind you! Remember, we are all in it together!

 3.  Know what each gift means to her – if the thought counts, then it is not the gift, but the message it sends that is valuable to her. Do flowers say “I have screwed up again, please forgive me?” or do they say “I was thinking of you and wanted you to know how special you are to me.” (If it is the former, then you have taught her that meaning and you need to begin to give them to her randomly when nothing is wrong, or you lose flowers as a gift.) Know what meaning she attaches to different things and communicate the right thing. Remember – no strings attached, or it only communicates “he wants something from me” and then you have shot yourself in the foot. Let me reiterate this – if a gift is merely meant to put her in your debt, or to put things out of balance so that she has to work to bring things back into balance, then at some level she is going to feel that you are trying to prostitute her to something. Plus, I believe it is not an honoring philosophy in for a man of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Here are some more helpful thoughts on the matter:

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